In Hard Time, you start by making your own character from a list of options. After you have made your character, you choose from a list of crimes which will give you more time in jail.
At the start the game, players are presented with a character creator. Once the character is created, the player character's cell will be randomly chosen.
The locations within the prison are as follows:
- A dining area
- A exercise yard
- A main hall
- A workshop
- A library
- The cell blocks
In the game there is a reputation level; higher crimes beget higher reputations. Players can also gain reputation by not doing what the guards say. But reputation can be lost upon being found innocent after doing something bad.