Ready, Fight! Fighting mechanics in Prisonscape, part 1

In the last post I talked about statistics, skills and jobs in Prisonscape. In this post, I will go through some of the fighting mechanics of Prisonscape. Since this post became longer than I thought, I will divide it into two parts: in the first one, we’ll go through regular and intelligence based attacks and combo hits. In the next part we’ll go through weapons and drugs and how they can be used in fights.

It is very difficult to avoid fighting in prison, mostly because they are filled with violent criminals. This is the case in Prisonscape also – sometimes you just have to fight. Sometimes you’ll do it for reputation, sometimes to gain leverage over other inmate(s) and sometimes just for the kick of it. Starting fights is fairly straightforward; usually simply insulting your fellow inmates is enough to start a rumble. You can even do it with the guards (but you really, really shouldn’t)! But all fights come at a price – sometimes you get beat up badly and have to go to the infirmary. Sometimes you get caught by the guards and are sent to the hole. If the player is very aggressive, he’ll start getting negative reputation with other inmates for being a bully, so you should pick your fights very carefully.

Fighting is based on the stats and skills of the player. Agility determines your hit accuracy with attacks such as kicks and punches, and strength is the statistic that is used when you try to overpower your enemy by simply being stronger. Fighting is the core skill which can be trained on your own, with a trainer or by just fighting. In the beginning you only have few basic attacks, but as your skill goes up you get more powerful attacks which also have other effects on your enemies. Each different attack type has a speed which determines how long you have to wait until you can attack again. For example, punches are fairly fast attack methods but pushing or tripping the enemy takes a longer time.

In addition to physical attacks, we have added attacks based on intelligence. With these attacks you can taunt your enemies, threat them or mock them or observe their fighting style and try to find a weak spot to attack to. Your enemies usually have a weakness for certain kind of attacks, and with your intelligence and observation skills you can find out more. For taunting attacks, you will use an intimidation skill that can also be trained alone, with a trainer or by just practicing these taunts in a fight. For observation you’ll also use the regular fighting skill.
Once you get better at fighting, you will get combo attacks. These multiattacks will give you an opportunity to damage your opponent severely by doing for example many punching attacks in a row (punch-punch-punch-uppercut). To make a succesful combo attack, the player must pass simple QTE combo meters a’la Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga. We know that the general commentary on QTE’s is negative, but in Prisoscape it’s mostly just good timing and we will not make them tedious or too difficult. Also, the difficulty of combo attacks goes down once you’ll fighting skills go up.

How the game works – closer look at game mechanics, part 1

I’ve written before about the game mechanics in Prisonscape, but since there has been a pile of updates and tweaks on the system, I thought it would be good idea to do a new summary about them. Here are some of the basic features and their descriptions:


In the game there are three main statistics: strength, agility and intelligence. Every task you do is somehow related to these statistics. For example, if you try to punch your enemy in a fight, you will use strength or agility as the base of the attack (this depends on the type of attack). In addition, you skill level is usually added to this “skill throw”.

Almost finished character screen.

Let us have an example:

Let’s say you have strength of 50, agility of 40 and intelligence of 40. You want to intimidate another inmate to give you some smokes. This task has a difficulty rating of 50. For this, you’ll use the average of your intelligence and strength ((50+40)/2), 45 and add any possible skill bonuses for the throw. Each skill throw get added “dice roll” of number between 1-10 to add some randomness to the game. Since the player has no intimidation skill, he gets no bonus for the throw. To make a successful skill throw, the player needs to “throw” at least 5 on the random dice roll (45 + 5 = 50). This same mechanic will be used in every task of the game, but in addition there can be some random variables (stunned or enraged in a fight, badly hurt when trying to pick pockets, etc.) that affect the final score.

There are several ways to increase your base statistics. Training by yourself is the least effective way, but you’ll get better results if you practice with a partner. Statistics also go up once they are used (skill throws, fights…).


Skills will give you bonuses on your throws. In addition, they give you random bonuses when your skill level is high enough, and with fighting skill you get new attacks once you advance. With crafting skill, you learn how to make better and more durable weapons as your skill level goes up. There are also several ways to increase your skill level or learn new skills. Some skills you can train from the books, but for some you need a trainer. Skill levels also go up when they are used.


Jobs are the quests of Prisonscape. Doing jobs for other inmates and/or guards will get you rewards such as smokes, dope, weapons and money or increase your reputation with factions. Doing jobs for rivalling factions will of course affect the opposing faction in a negative way (Black Guerrilla Family members won’t like when you deal drugs for the Aryan Brotherhood).


(Still empty) job journal.

Jobs can be acquired from inmates, guards or straight from the environment.

In the next part of this game mechanics post I will go through the fighting mechanics, how reputation works and how inventory and items work in the game.

How do people feel about mixing pixel graphics and more detailed graphics? We’ve gone our way and decided to try more detailed graphics in the UI, even though the game itself works on pixels. Do you think this is a good or bad idea? And why?

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.



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 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.


Financing Prisonscape

After reading this article

In total we have spent 2250 euros which is about 3000 dollars. As you can see, most of our money has gone to graphics. We outsource all of our graphics and music and we started working with David on graphics as soon as we realized how shitty at drawing I was. Case started doing music much later, after we had early alpha version and we were

sure about the style we wanted to go with. We had a lot of luck when we assembled the team, since we all were extremely interested in making games but had practically no previous experience in the field.

I made some rough estimates about our future expenses, and we’ll probably have to spend about 6000 euros (8000 USD) more to finish the make. This is the bare minimum, and it would not contain all of the planned cutscenes and scenarios, but the game would still be playable and goddamn excellent. So far all of the money has come from our own pockets and savings, but we are still considering crowdfunding.

This would also give us the opportunity to do some presales of the game and give the fans the chance to participate in beta testing and giving feedback during the development. We wouldn’t have any physical awards because it would just take out time from the actual development, but we would probably include tiers for people who want to contribute to the actual game on different levels – it could be as small as writing a graffiti on the wall
or adding a book to the library or something bigger, such as creating your inmate with desired background and personality.

My point with this babbling was actually this: making games is pretty expensive, especially if you outsource the assets. There are of course people who are able to do all by themselves, but if me and Tuomas did the graphics and music for the game, nobody would EVER play it. It’s better to buy these things from professionals who know what they’re doing!

Let me just show you how this game looked before David took over the graphics:











You wouldn’t play this, would you?

Getting the job done

I think it’s finally time to talk about how quests, or jobs, as we call them in Prisonscape, work. I’m going to go through two jobs that are actually in the game and tell the different ways of achieving the end goal. If you don’t want any spoilers for the game, you should stop reading after this paragraph. The way most jobs in Prisonscape work is that there are many ways to complete them. With a combination of RPG elements and item finding and manipulation from classic adventure games, the player can build up different kind of characters and still complete the jobs.

Getting back to the kitchen

In this job the Aryan Brotherhood leader wants you to help them take the kitchen back from the black inmates. For this, you have to do a series of miniquests and once you have completed enough of these, the kitchen administration will be handed to the whites. Some examples of doing this include:

– Create a rat problem by putting dead fish in the air ventilation of the kitchen. For this, you’ll need Intelligence & Agility stats, and Intimidation and Pick pocketing skills will also help with the task
– Spread rumours about the foul quality of the food. Uses Intelligence stat, and Intimidation skill might help a bit
– Bribe one the guards to let you in the kitchen and do some re-work on the refridgerator so that the food will we spoilt over night. You need some trade goods for bribing and  Intelligence stat & Electronics skill for the sabotage. Haggling skill will give you a small bribery boost
– Beat up some of the sous-chefs so that the kitchen will be understaffed. Requires good fighting skills and Strength
– Bribe other inmates to complain about the food. Requires a LOT of trade goods

Not all of these minijobs are required, of course.


One of the officers ask the player for information about other inmates. The rewards of this job are generous and it also gives you better reputation amongst the guards. If the player gets caught, his reputation goes down with ALL gangs. Officers ask for different kind of information and this is often learned by talking to other inmates or doing jobs for them.

Some of the information includes:

– Find a weapon stash of one the gangs (information gained through doing another job or searching the prison environment)
– Find how drugs are brought in (information gained through talking to some of the inmates whom you have good reputation with)
– Find out some of the “targets” in the prison (this information is also gained through series of jobs and after gaining trust from some of the gang bangers)

These were just two examples of different kind of jobs in the game. Our aim is to make the game so that you don’t have make a super character with incredible stats and skills (unless you want to!) to solve the puzzles and problems in the game. Hopefully we create a nice mixture of adventure and role-playing!

In other news, we have started working on the user interface and we’ve seen some incredible progress from our graphic designer. In the near future we can finally say goodbye to those Final Fantasy style blue boxes. 😉 Here’s a little work-in-progress teaser image: