Writing for Prisonscape

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of writing for Prisonscape. A LOT. I made a decision to write at least 50 lines every day, regardless of my other tasks and duties. I’ll admit, it hasn’t happened every day, but I still have a lot of dialogue and NPC backgrounds written that just needs to be put into the game. I did all this on my 7 inch tablet and a virtual keyboard during my vacation and the whole process was separated from the actual game development. This was very refreshing experience since I didn’t even have Internet connection to check any facts or grammar, so I just put all my thoughts and ideas in the document.

workshop

This is very different from how I usually work – I do a lot of fact checking from Wikipedia and other sources, check the dictionary for “right” words and sometimes search how people use certain phrases in sentences. But I have a very busy mind, and after all the checking I often find myself doing something completely different, for example browsing Reddit or reading some forums. It took some willpower, but after a while I decided to disconnect myself from the Internet altogether and just concentrate on the writing and doing the proofreading and fact checking only after I have that wall of text for the game.

Next thing I have to learn is to scrap some of that BAD dialogue I have written. It is so difficult to throw away something you have already done, it just feels like a waste of time…

As some of you may already know, we were given a hosted forum on RPG Codex. It’s pretty much the best site for anything related to cRPGs. The forum is at this point pretty quiet, but hopefully it will take off once we start writing more frequent updates about the game and get to the alpha phase. One of the most interesting things there at the moment is Garland’s (who’s an ex-con) Q&A about prison life, I recommend you check it out if you are interested in prison life.

cafeteria-kitchen

One of the most frequent question we get over on Codex is the amount of branching and C&C (choices and consequences) in the game. Prisonscape will have some branching (you can select if you want to join the Aryan Brotherhood or try to stay neutral and do jobs for different factions and NPCs), but the main story will be quite linear. Variance for the game comes from jobs and smaller storylines not related to the main story. Jobs can often be completed in different ways and they often have consequences that can only be seen at later stages of the game (thus preventing the classic save-load method). The reason for the lack of story branching and different endings is simply the lack of resources – the game has only one writer and scripting this would simply be too much work.

The ultimate goal is to finish the game!

Introducting County Jail

Prisonscape consists of four different areas: County jail, a prison unit called ‘Miranda’ and two other, MYSTERIOUS areas (I’m sure that some of you figure out why they’re kept secret at this point). In this blog post I will make a short introduction on County jail, the first area that is very close to getting finished.

It’s the place criminals go to wait for their sentencing, and because most inmates spend only little time in there, it doesn’t have many luxuries and it isn’t very well-kept. There’s no cafeteria since the lunches (containing food-like products) are served in paper bags, everything is dirty and the most of the time the TVs are broken.

The thing that makes this place so interesting (and also scary) is that in county jail the inmates crimes can be anything from DIU to first degree murder, and since most criminals aren’t the most honest fellows, it is sometimes difficult to determine if these people are friendly or just trying to manipulate you to do their bidding. Many inmates have little jobs for you to do around the jail, and this is the best way to get recognized inside. The other way is to fight, but starting fights with random inmates will get you on the shit list for both the guards and the inmates, so pick your fights carefully!


These jobs vary from really easy and trivial like this:

To more complex and time-consuming like this:

Since the player character is white, your only choice for gang activity is the Aryan Brotherhood, but if you decide to stay neutral, there are lots of inmates who are giving you small jobs that will raise your reputation amongst the general population who aren’t interested in the gang banging. You can even do some snitching for the guards, but be careful that you don’t get caught, since the old saying ‘snitches get stitches’ applies also to this place.

Of course there will be some new features added to the game that will also be applied to County jail, and dialogue for the inmates and guards will be expanded and iterated during the future development, but at it’s current state, CJ is a nice little playable area which shows the basic features of Prisonscape nicely. We have already started working on the next area, Miranda, which will be much larger area with lots of NPC’s to interact (and fight) with.

Introducing NPC’s, part three

It’s time to introduce another batch of NPC’s of Prisonscape. Which one do you find the most interesting? We have also started doing regular game development live streams on twitch.tv. Stay tuned for the updates on these through Twitter, @Prisonscape.

Hank

Hank is a sadistic inmate who is part of the Aryan Brotherhood. He does not seem to mind being in prison for the rest of his life, and at times he actually seems to enjoy sitting behind bars. He’s not officially part of the leaders of the Brand, but some suspect that he whispers all the big decisions to Big Bob’s ear for which he takes no credit. Nobody in the prison seems to know what Hank was sentenced for, but many suspect that it involved multiple sadistic homicides.

The Doctor

‘The Doc’ is an African witch-doctor who came to America to make his fortune selling remedies and voodoo curses. Instead he got incarcarated for killing some of his patients unintentionally. He whines and begs for dope, smoke and everything that has value, and when he’s refused, he blames people of racism. He also tried to start a career as a plastic surgeon by injecting glue, concrete and other not-so-healthy substances into desperate women’s behinds and cheeks. He has filed most lawsuits against the prison and the state amongst the inmates in California.

The General

The General is an old army man who was sentenced for tax evasion and embezzlement. He was part of a ponzi scheme that made him a millionaire, and the General genuinely thought that he was making a legal business. General has a way with explosives and army tactics, and he can also teach the player different stealth maneuvers.

 

Tiago Silva

Tiago is a serial killer who’s been convicted for manslaughter. Few years back, he killed his boyfriend who tried to run away once he found out about Tiago’s past. He hasn’t been sentenced for over 30 murders he has committed in the last 20 years. Tiago is not involved in any of the latino gangs inside Miranda. Tiago is a sociopath and extremely intelligent and most people either fear or respect him.

Introducing NPC’s, part deux

Lil Raz

‘I don’t imitate art nigga, art mimics me’ spits Lil Raz on his album ‘Ultimate SW@G’ which took the rap world by storm a few years ago. His paparazzi-baiting antics earned Raz front pages on every tabloid newspaper going, while his flashy style and garish garb made him a feature in glamour magazines around with world.

However, not even an army of stylists and managers could keep Raz from his darker side, and the public lost patience with the rapper after accusations of statutory rape at a cocaine-fuelled party in Paris. Money can buy a lot on the outside, but when slammed up with the big boys, Lil Raz will have rely on more than just his purchasing power to stay alive.

Yithzak Koprowski

A vital cog in the Kielbasa machine, don’t let Yithzak’s age fool you; his canny wisdom make him a true king-maker in the underground world. He’s stared down many an Aryan, making him one of the only Jews in federal prison without a scratch on his face.

 

Mancini


The archetypal Italian-American gangster, self-styled in the mould of the 1950s movie mobsters he would sneak downstairs to watch on T.V. A Neapolitan upbringing crafted Mancini into a vibrant, charismatic ladies-man, but a spate of organised crime sentences left him washed up on American shores. His smooth talking and slight-of-hand made him a prison escape expert – a very valuable person to know.

Batracio

Batracio is the sect leader of Nuestra Familia, revered for ruthless torture techniques and glory killings. Preferring to let his hands to do the talking, the few words he mutters are often death-threats  to the EME.

 

Which one is your favorite? Or are they all just plain boring? And don’t forget to check the previous part.

 

Introducing NPCs, part 1

In this blog post I’m going to introduce some of the NPCs that you will see in Prisonscape. If you don’t want any spoilers, you should probably stop reading right about now.
Big Bob

Being the highest ranking officer, Big Bob is the leader of the Aryans in County Jail. He has gained his status mostly because his brother is the division leader of the western sect of Aryan Brotherhood. He offers a lot of jobs for the player if he wishes to join ‘The Brand’. He is not liked even among his own men, and he leads mostly through fear. He is a big, fat and bald man who usually thinks only of himself.

Lobster

Lobster got his nickname because he has red hair and blushes easily. He is a computer geek who was sentenced to prison for breaking into MIT’s network in order to obtain research material. He is a skinny guy who enjoys consuming different kinds of drugs. He’s not really a drug addict, but more of a researcher in the field of drugs. Sometimes he offers the player some of the more exotic substances. Lobster is one of the friendlier guys inside the prison.

He can teach player the Computer skill.

It would be nice to hear what kind of NPCs you would like to see in the game. If you have any ideas, please write a comment!

Gangs in Prisonscape

This is a post that might give away minor spoilers about Prisonscape. I will surround the spoiler parts with a spoiler tag, so you can decide for yourself if you want to read them or not.

Every prison needs its gangs. In fact, some prisons are run by them, and in many cases they are the ones who keep rioters and most violent criminals at bay with their own complex rules. In Prisonscape, we have 4 major and few smaller prison gangs. The player can join these gangs based on the character’s skin color. But you don’t HAVE TO join a gang, as you can keep playing as a “neutron”, a person who doesn’t get involved between the gang rivalries, but doesn’t get any of the benefits of being in one either. Here’s a short description of the gangs we have in Prisonscape:

Aryan Brotherhood
“The Brand”

 

The Aryan Brotherhood admits only white members who align themselves ideologically with white supremacists. They admire German and Irish ancestry and Norse/Viking symbolism and history. All members of The Brand vote to initiate new members, and even one negative vote will keep the player out of the gang. Final approval is given by the gang leader, the “General”. The Brand has a “blood-in, blood-out” policy, meaning a member must kill in order to be admitted into the gang and must die in order to leave.

While the members of Aryan Brotherhood are white, they are known to associate with Mexican Mafia and sometimes with blacks. These associations are formed as a necessity and generally involve drug trade. The alliance between AB and Mexican Mafia came about as a means of protection against rising numbers of rural Mexicans of La Nuestra Familia.

The player can join The Brand in the final game. The “benefits” include getting protection from the gang (bonuses in fights) and having cheaper prices for trade items between gang members.

Black Guerrilla Family
“The Vanguard”

The Vanguard maintains an extensive and precise code of ethics and are the most politically oriented gangs in the US. As black revolutionaries, members consider themselves above racism. However, this code is often forgotten in the prison environment, and their oath clearly states that “there is no cure for the evils of the Western world other than through uncompromising destruction”.

They also facilitate drug trade and most of their members are from all-black street gangs such as Crips and Bloods. They maintain close ties with these street gangs to keep drugs flowing and even offer protection to street dealers that are sentenced to prison.

BGF remains rivals with Aryan Brotherhood and Mexican Mafia. They sometimes associate with La Nuestra Familia in coordinating the drug trade from Mexico.

The player can join The Vanguard in the final game. The Vanguard assists the player by providing help for smuggling items into the prison. He also gets cheaper prices when trading between gang members.

La Nuestra Familia
“La Familia”

LNF is a Hispanic gang with a large portion of members coming from rural areas and are referenced as “farmers” by their enemies. They originated in order to protect young, rural, Mexican-American inmates from the Mexican Mafia. It was set up along military lines, including ranks such as generals, captains and soldiers. LNF is a big gang with rising numbers, and they are known for their ruthlessness and violence.

LNF are bitter enemies of the Mexican Mafia and The Aryan Brotherhood, but they sometimes associate with BGF in coordinating drug trade and protecting dealers.

LNF is the biggest gang in the final game. It is possible for the player to join them through a series of long and difficults jobs. LNF provides protection for the player and the possibility to hire a “hitman”. He also gets cheaper prices when trading between gang members.

Mexican Mafia
“EME”

The EME, which promotes ethnic solidarity, is a Hispanic gang that has control over gambling, extortion and some of the drug trade inside the prison. They are known for their viciousness, and they use murder as a form of inter-gang intimidation. EME is also known as one of the most disruptive prison groups within the federal prison system. Its drug trafficking is carried out by a paramilitary organizations and they have a lot of power outside of the prison.

The EME enlists members from urban areas and their allies are The Aryan Brotherhood and various other street gangs. AB and EME are associates and occasionally will take hit contracts for one another.

EME is the weakest gang in numbers in the final game, but they make up this with violence and ruthlessness. Player can’t join EME in the final game, but is associated with them if he belongs to the Aryan Brotherhood.