Prison Tycoon sneak peak

I picked up a copy of Prison Tycoon on my last visit to —-’s, maybe two weeks ago, and have just gotten around to trying it out.
I don’t have any particularly high expectations — it is a tycoon game after all, and released by ValuSoft. Other company names on the box include “VIRTUAL playground” and “Gamebryo”. The box contains a CD and a folded cd insert sleeve with a few brief instructions. The manual, such as it is, is a 62k html file on the disc.

Despite its credentials, and/or because of the lack of documentation, there have been a couple of questions here on my blog on how to play. I would suggest that people go to the GameFAQs page for information, but there isn’t much there. (GameFAQs has a surprisingly draconian forum policy, without which it would be a far better game resource. Oh well.)
After two or so hours of play, I was able to complete the first challenge. The interface is clunky; you can move the camera in 3 directions, but you can’t change the angle, so there are a lot of occlusion problems. (I have now been told that you can hold down CTRL to change the camera angle.) The environment is actually in 3D, as you can view six “camera” views inside of each building, thought the only really useful one being a top down angle.
It took me a while to finish the challenge because twice the game ended abruptly, telling me that I had run out of funds. This happens at the end of the “day” (a timer which runs from 06:00 to 22:00, and each day actually represents a year of game time), when apparently some kind of maintenance or salary calculation takes place.
So my tips for challenge #1:
- Don’t build too much right away. Maybe build a factory the first year, and a service building the second year.
- Add the level 1 clerical office. This will cut maintenance costs in half.
- The initial layout is crappy, but rebuilding is expensive. Bulldoze the exercise yard and the useless fences to free up walking space, and build things around the perimeter.
- The big factory houses six work areas, for twice the cost of the small factory which only houses two work areas.
- The more expensive factory work areas seem to make more money.
- Each work area (and each area in general) provides services for a maximum number of prisoners. Six can work in the auto body shop, four in the printing press, seven in the metal shop, and eight in the upholstery shop.
* * *
I have now played the free play version, and it is more interesting (or less broken) than the challenge scenarios.
There seems to be some hidden factors which control prisoner moods, like The Sims only you don’t know what the characters are lacking. I’d guess these factors are something like: comfort (having a nice bed, someplace to sit and relax), entertainment (various activities that probably depend on the character’s star sign), mental health. and spiritual health. These combine to determine the character’s mood, happy or passive or bored or angry.
Tips for building a self-sustaining prison:
- New prisoners arrive twice a day, once in the morning, and again around 13:00. The number is random, at low levels it seems to be from one to four, increasing as your prison rating goes up.
- You get $1000 for each minimum security prisoner per day. Since you only get two to eight prisoners each day, it will take a while to build up a population that makes decent money. You need to keep maintenance costs low.
- To maximize the prison population, use bunk beds. These probably aren’t very comfortable, but they fit the most prisoners in a dormitory, which is crucial starting out.
- To get prisoners, you need a dormitory with beds and at least one guard. To get a guard, you can build a guard tower or place a guard office in the services building.

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48 Responses to “Prison Tycoon sneak peak”
  1. ergot says:

    You can actually change the camera angle, both in the regular view and inside buildings. Hold down the middle mouse button and rotate the camera with your mouse. I think that CTRL might also work if you only have a two-button mouse.

  2. Matt says:

    To switch between camera angles in the ouside world hold shift and then press up or down.

  3. swrfqwe says:


  4. Terox says:

    Is it possible to have more time than 60 min ??

  5. CarolAnn says:

    Occasionally a prisoner doesn’t have a cell allocation. (A red X through the cell symbol when right clicking on him). The “manual” says he will escape but “you know what to do”. Well, you can’t drag one of those prisoners to a cell block like you can any other prisoner or worker. I’ve tried surrounding him with guards and pressing their “get to work” buttons, but they only walk away, sometimes after beating the prisoner up. Anyone know?

  6. Aaron says:

    I’ve played this darn game for hours trying to figure out how to even get some prisoners to come to my prison!! please help????!

  7. mark says:

    how can i get some prisoners in my jail plzzzzzzz HELP thank you………

  8. jessica says:

    well i see some pretty good tips on here, but still cant quite figure out the game…can anyone send me some meaningful insructions.

  9. Drifter says:

    I’ve found that a prisoner only works when either “happy” or “very happy” after eating at the Mess Hall. It appears that only “passive” or “very passive” prisoners prior to eating end up at least”happy”.
    *Providing a chapel and a therapist will passify your prisoners.
    After working and making all the money, prisoners need health care immediately!
    Starting off with 36 bunks will limit your prisoner population to 36. Try to provide bunks before deleting and your prisoners will be allocated earlier(be careful to delete at the right time – you might get more prisoners).
    Each wooden dining table feeds 6 prisoners, so build only 6 tables. The tables and bunks require repair after each daily use. I place 3 maintenance offices in Admin. and it seems to keep things going.
    Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help.
    I think Prison Tycoon is a pretty fun game. I personally am having audio issues. Some of the game ambient soundbytes play continuously and become louder as the layers of sound compuond. It’s kind of annoying, so I figured out that saving the game, closing to the desktop and reloading fixes that issue temporarily (this recurrs after another 15 minutes of play). Can anyone find a patch?

  10. Tequila says:

    PLEASE HELP!!! i bought the game and i have a prison saved but after i exit the game and try to get back into it i can’t get it to load the game. please help me figure out how to load my game???

  11. anaymous says:

    I like how u explained it. Could u talk more about gaurds?

  12. anaymous says:

    I like how u explained it. Could u talk more about gaurds?

  13. Vindicator says:

    Prison Tycoon is the biggest hunk of shit, I ever wasted $20.00 on.
    1.The manual sucks.
    2.Getting prisoners in your bloody prison. Does
    anyone have a bloody clue as to how to do this.
    3.The graphics are clunky and the game play is
    BORING as hell. Since I can only play the
    challenge mode, since I don’t have a bloody
    clue as to how to get the little bastards into
    my jail.
    I’ve tried everything.
    Barracks:Fully furnished
    Mess Hall: Done to the 9’s
    Guards a’ plenty.
    Admin office.
    Blah….screw it I got better things to do
    To the makers of this game. You belong in prison getting gang raped, you bastards!!!!!

  14. matt says:

    does any one have the password please if u do please send it to me coz i want to play it and c how shit it really is

  15. Brian Bird says:

    make the game go faster by pressing the arroes in the far right hand corner of ur screen. this speeds up time. notice everyone moves faster. wait a few minutes and a buss will come to drop off inmates. if u dont speed up time, it can take a wile to do everything, so i leave it on the fastest mode

  16. Joe says:

    I can run the prison pretty smoothly but can’t figure out how to increase security level. anyone got something?

  17. kurrupt says:

    The game is not as bad as some of these comments make it out to be….but yes it could be LOTS better. Some answers:
    1) To increase security level build more towers.
    2) To get more prisoners build more beds. Prisoners arrive twice per day(around 07:00, then around 13:00)
    3) For the guy who wants the password….ummm…no pw required for the retail version.
    Here is an extra tip: sometimes even though you are allowed to place a tile in a dorm, it may block an entrance. If this happens the prisoners will become overcrowded resulting LOTS of fighting. So be careful. Just because you can place it doesn’t mean they can move around it (sometimes). Play it safe and leave extra room or just check on the rooms to make sure the passages are clear.
    By the way I’ve only been playing this game for 1 week so if anyone knows how to beat challeng 8 let me know.

  18. Lorna says:

    ROFLMAO! As the old addage goes, if you build it, they will come. A day goes DAMN slow, so try speeding it up to triple time. If I have bed space I’ll usually get at least one prisoner a day (curiously enough, they don’t even need to eat at first). You get more people per delivery as your prison gets better. You NEVER get more than maybe two deliveries a day, so you just need to wait and be patient. I’ve gone a whole day (game “Year”) before without getting a single prisoner. Patience, my son!

  19. PISSED says:

    prison tycoon is the worst tycoon game i have ever played i think it is a big waste of money

  20. Rob says:

    Ok to answer everyone’s questions. To get prisoners you need an !accsessable! bed, don’t block the front door, and a gaurdroom. To increase security level you need more gaurds, and the servailance rooms (towers are good too). Build the offices that reduce running costs right away (all of them) and a factory, start with the small yard and when you earn some money then get an ammenities building. Don’t parole an inmate that has more then half his sentance left, or fights alot.

  21. Jamie says:

    I have been playing the game for a while I think it is ok. I have also found it easier to play if you get the cheat codes. That way you can have as much money as you want, you can make the prisoners mood happy, and you can actually make the time move like twice as fast as the triple speed button.

  22. Jamie says:

    And another added note… I HAVE NOT been able to complete any of the challenges.

  23. ANGRY says:

    Can anyone tell me how to put a building down

  24. Danielle says:

    HELP>>>>>I have made 3 Prisons, tried loading all 3, and they will not load.. can anyone tell me how PLEASE??????

  25. Danielle says:

    HELP>>>>>>> I just got this game, have made 3 prisons, and can’t get any of them to load. How do I do this???? Can someone tell me PLEASE!!!!!!!

  26. Danielle says:

    HELP PLEASE!!!!!!! Hello, I just got this game, made 3 prisons, and can’t get any of them to load. Can anyne tell me how to do this????

  27. Joe says:

    how do i make bunk beds

  28. nick says:

    Can some one tell me how to make a bed.

  29. Mike says:

    Very interesting.

  30. heather says:

    I have my prison up and running but i am in the red and going deeper everyday even though i am getting prisioners how do i get out of the red to build a factory???????

  31. heather says:

    I have my prison up and running but i am in the red and going deeper everyday even though i am getting prisioners how do i get out of the red to build a factory???????

  32. Mike says:

    This game sucks I cant figure it out I would of paid $25.00 just for the damn instrunction manual

  33. Andy says:

    Ok i just got this game yesterday, and spent a good couple hours tryin to figure it out… i get the whole damn prison built but yet when the prisoners arrive it tells me i need cell blocks to house them, only thing is that it wont let me buy cell blocks as i am in low security. i just want to play the god damn game, not fart around on it for hours just tryin to make it work… any hints or stuff?

  34. Andy says:

    if anyone could email me at, that would be great, just letme kno what i’m doin wrong

  35. bibo says:

    ok, i got prisoners, but they wont work at the factory! can anyone tell me how to make money in this game???

  36. Christine says:

    I’m making money in the game by parolling my rehabilitated prisoners. At first I started off very small – a small dormitory, small mess hall and a security office. Then the next thing I built was a factory…I put it right across from the mess hall so (hopefully!) the inmates would go work after they ate. So far it’s been working. I just can’t figure out how to upgrade the dormitory. I don’t want to have to knock it down and make a new one…but I’m running out of room so I’ll have to figure something out fast.

  37. DR JE Wolfe says:

    The manual, or lack of one posts a difficult problem. I am at max security rating by using small pods, cookie cutter additions that are the same. I would like a feature that sends you to exactly where fights break out instead of guessing. I would like to “assign” guards to certain areas where fights are going to break out (like in cells). I always get fights in the morning before my guards are able to get there. It’s a pain to click and drop, click and drop. If anyone knows anything, please respond.

  38. Sherlock says:

    I hope the programmers are reading all of these reviews and comments. They should be ashamed of themselves. Maybe they made it in 1995 and forgot to release it. lol The game is definitly a waste of money. Very few options, graphics remind me of something from the first Nintendo console, and talk about slow and boring gameplay. What were they thinking when they allowed this game to be released?? Should be free in a box of Cheerios in my opinion. It will take you 2 days just to figure out how boring it is. :(

  39. Tara Andrews says:

    I am dying here reading all these comments. I got through challenge one with get this – no guards!! I can’t figure out how to hire guards and when I do have them, how do I subdue them or confiscate contraband? Someone, please, email me and let me know what I’m doing wrong!! Thanks –

  40. Brielle says:

    how do u build walla for the prisoners???? i cant find it… like walls for the dormitarys and stuff

  41. tawnia says:

    bought prison tycoon 2 first, could not figure it kept turning off saying there was some kind of system error. went and bought the first one..figured it would be easier…no manual, bad angles, not sure how to stop fights, keep going broke, cant stop contraband, trouble directing guards, game moves to slow……other then these things…not to bad.

  42. jim bob says:

    lmao! i just d/l this game on bit torrent. it really is the biggest piece in the world. i’m not gay but i’d rather eat a dick than spend any time playing this.
    my suggestion………… download medieval total war 2, it rocks.
    anyone who says this game is good has no life, and i have played sim games b4. rollercoaster tycoon was alright.

  43. flame says:

    how do ya get the cheat code to start working?
    i press the enter key & nadda.

  44. LARRISA says:

    I got shit under control the only thing I don’t understand is how to get the celebrities in a secluded area and keep them there w/o the others trying to come to thier shit & how much is enough for them to approve of it.

  45. Dave says:

    Will someone please tell me how the hell do I get prisoners in!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. Willy says:

    To get prisoners in off the bat you need an amenities building with a few activities, so prisoners are happy, they wont work if their not happy, a medium factory with all four trades, a dorm with bunks, staff building with 1 guard for every 5 prisoners, maintenance man, clerical staff to reduce land rent, a mess haul with a cook and a seat for every prisoner, a medical building with a cheap therapist and cheapest medical staff. you should have around 24000 left. The first few days youll break about even at the end of the day, but as more prisoners come in the more you end of day earnings will be.

  47. mike says:

    I cannot enter the cheats for the life of me….I hit enter then type sleepworker, then i hit m, but nothing happens?please help!!!

  48. JAG says:

    How do you get the cheats to work on Prison Tycoon 2 Maximum Security? Is there any cheats at at all?