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Product Update - Valve
The ninth installment of the Prison Architect Alpha has today been released, and it’s a big one. We’ve tackled some of the big issues that have been on our list for a very long time - prisoner employment, laundry services, family visitation, workshops, and lots more.

Here is our Alpha9 video. Apologies for my distorted voice, I had the levels on my mic set completely wrongly this time around.



Central to the new version is the concept of Prisoner Employment, and we’ve been planning this feature for a long time. Prisoners can now perform a variety of jobs around the prison, saving you money on staff and raising money for you by selling goods manufactured by your work force. Prisoners can work in the kitchen, they can clean the prison, and they can work in the laundry and the workshop, both of which are new in Alpha9.

We have a brand new laundry system, which is entirely prisoner run. Clean uniforms will be distributed around your prison in laundry baskets, and prisoners will change into these after they’ve had their shower. Dirty uniforms will be collected up in laundry baskets and brought back to the laundrette where they are washed. It can take quite a long time to cycle all the laundry in your prison - expect it to take several days to cycle everyone in large prisons.

We also have workshops. These rooms are used to produce trinkets which you can sell for profit - currently car license plates, which the prisoners make out of sheet metal with a couple of new bench tools. It’s up to you if you wish to exploit your prisoners for cheap labour - it will certainly help with the cashflow, and your prisoners will be learning new skills at the same time. (Actually nobody learns anything in alpha9, but they will in a future update)

Prison labour is free right now, but eventually (in a future alpha) you will pay your prisoners a small wage, which they will be able to use to buy essential supplies from a prison shop. And all of these rooms - the kitchen, the cleaning cupboard, the laundrette and the workshop, will bring their own particular dangers to the prison if you chose to use them.

If that wasn’t enough, visitation has also been added in alpha9. Most prisoners now have family, and those family will want to come and visit from time to time. (Note: All bios will be re-generated because of this). Click on any prisoner to see his known family members listed in his rap sheet. Build a visitation room and those family members will come to see their loved one in jail, which makes everyone a little bit happier. However you should enjoy the universal goodness of visitation while it lasts, because in a future alpha it will become a major source of smuggled contraband.

There’s also a number of visual changes: Most noticeably, the main toolbar icons have all been replaced with cleaner, higher resolution versions. You should also notice the grime and dirt and overgrown grass and pathways around your prison look much better (so to speak) - we used to rely on a single crack graphic for everything! It’s now much more obvious when your prison needs cleaning and gardening, and much more satisfying to watch your janitors and gardeners doing that. And of course you can get your prisoners to do most of the cleaning now anyway, which gets the job done much quicker.

This was a major update, adding a load of new “mid game” content to the game. We’ve got big plans for alpha10 as well, which should be another big one. In the mean time, enjoy the latest version.

Community Announcements - sPray
The ninth installment of the Prison Architect Alpha has today been released, and it’s a big one. We’ve tackled some of the big issues that have been on our list for a very long time - prisoner employment, laundry services, family visitation, workshops, and lots more.

Here is our Alpha9 video. Apologies for my distorted voice, I had the levels on my mic set completely wrongly this time around.
Video

Central to the new version is the concept of Prisoner Employment, and we’ve been planning this feature for a long time. Prisoners can now perform a variety of jobs around the prison, saving you money on staff and raising money for you by selling goods manufactured by your work force. Prisoners can work in the kitchen, they can clean the prison, and they can work in the laundry and the workshop, both of which are new in Alpha9.

We have a brand new laundry system, which is entirely prisoner run. Clean uniforms will be distributed around your prison in laundry baskets, and prisoners will change into these after they’ve had their shower. Dirty uniforms will be collected up in laundry baskets and brought back to the laundrette where they are washed. It can take quite a long time to cycle all the laundry in your prison - expect it to take several days to cycle everyone in large prisons.

We also have workshops. These rooms are used to produce trinkets which you can sell for profit - currently car license plates, which the prisoners make out of sheet metal with a couple of new bench tools. It’s up to you if you wish to exploit your prisoners for cheap labour - it will certainly help with the cashflow, and your prisoners will be learning new skills at the same time. (Actually nobody learns anything in alpha9, but they will in a future update)

Prison labour is free right now, but eventually (in a future alpha) you will pay your prisoners a small wage, which they will be able to use to buy essential supplies from a prison shop. And all of these rooms - the kitchen, the cleaning cupboard, the laundrette and the workshop, will bring their own particular dangers to the prison if you chose to use them.

If that wasn’t enough, visitation has also been added in alpha9. Most prisoners now have family, and those family will want to come and visit from time to time. (Note: All bios will be re-generated because of this). Click on any prisoner to see his known family members listed in his rap sheet. Build a visitation room and those family members will come to see their loved one in jail, which makes everyone a little bit happier. However you should enjoy the universal goodness of visitation while it lasts, because in a future alpha it will become a major source of smuggled contraband.

There’s also a number of visual changes: Most noticeably, the main toolbar icons have all been replaced with cleaner, higher resolution versions. You should also notice the grime and dirt and overgrown grass and pathways around your prison look much better (so to speak) - we used to rely on a single crack graphic for everything! It’s now much more obvious when your prison needs cleaning and gardening, and much more satisfying to watch your janitors and gardeners doing that. And of course you can get your prisoners to do most of the cleaning now anyway, which gets the job done much quicker.

This was a major update, adding a load of new “mid game” content to the game. We’ve got big plans for alpha10 as well, which should be another big one. In the mean time, enjoy the latest version.
Kotaku

Another Serious Game Falls to Apple's Anger-Inducing Approval ProcessProven countless times over the past several years alone, video games are a form of entertainment uniquely suited to communicating serious subjects in an interactive fashion — far more effectively than reading a book or watching a documentary. Unfortunately Apple wants nothing to do with that sort of communication, so UK developer Littleloud's Sweatshop HD had to be removed from the app store.



Anyone with any level of understanding that's had the opportunity to play Sweatshop HD (you can still play the free Flash version here) knows the defense-style game isn't about glorifying the practice of hiring underage workers to toil away in unsafe conditions to create designer clothes for wealthy foreigners. Instead it's an exploration of the pressure put on people in all aspects of the sweatshop business model. It's about raising awareness, and communicating the sick feeling one gets when seemingly the only way to win is to subject workers to dangerous conditions.



The game showed up on iOS in late November of 2012. It was pulled last month. Speaking to Pocket Gamer, Littleloud's head of games Simon Parkin said that "Apple removed Sweatshop from the App Store last month stating that it was uncomfortable selling a game based around the theme of running a sweatshop."



Littleloud attempted to clarify the game's intent with a disclaimer, calling it "a sympathetic examination of the pressures that all participants in the sweatshop system endure." Unfortunately the changes were not enough to see the game returned to the App Store.



While Apple's guidelines have led to many games being rejected for downright silly reasons (Japanese enemies in a World War II game? No way.) Others, like Owlchemy Labs' Smuggle Truck, sought to take on serious subjects from a perspective that advocacy groups found irreverent and Apple ultimately found too controversial, much like it has with Sweatshop HD. It's highly unlikely we'll see Littleloud replace its characters with stuffed animals, as Owlchemy did to transform its banned game into Snuggle Truck.



Given the size of its market, it's quite unfortunate that Apple has decided to take this sort of hardline stance on game approvals. The platform's reach could prove invaluable in advancing awareness and understanding of serious topics, but with each banned game, Apple's position becomes clearer — iOS is not a place for serious games, and other developers are beginning to get the message.




Introversion Software's Prison Architect is currently available for play through Steam's new Early Access program for PC — a platform that remains a bastion for serious indie games.



At least for now.



Sweatshop HD is the latest victim in Apple's war on serious games [Pocket Gamer]


Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Nathan Grayson)

“Oh boy! I can finally get into prison early!” Oh videogames, don’t ever stop allowing me to create phrases of such ear-perking outlandishness that people could mistake me as ringleader of a merry band of elves. Other gems now possible thanks to Steam’s paid-alpha-centric Early Access program include “Hooray! Frighteningly authentic war’s happening even sooner than I thought” and “I wasn’t planning on being shipwrecked with no hope of escape today, but I certainly can’t complain.” But Prison Architect, Arma 3, and Under The Ocean are only three of the 12 inaugural games on offer. The rest – and perhaps even some freshly baked wordthinks – are after the break.

(more…)

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