This month we took a huge step fowards in one of the biggest remaining areas of the game - contraband. Almost every room in the game is now a source of dangerous contraband which prisoners can (and will) steal whilst your back is turned. Workshops used to be a source of near unlimited funds - now they are also a source of hammers, screwdrivers, and electric drills. Medicines from the medical wards, knifes from the kitchen, even booze and cigs from the administrators office. Everything is up for grabs for your light fingered inmates, and those nice visiting relatives can now smuggle in virtually anything for their loved ones. Inmates will smuggle their stolen gear back to their cell, taking care to avoid metal detectors where appropriate, and will stash their shit anywhere they can. You might search an inmate at Yard time and find nothing, but he could have a whole armoury waiting for him back in his cell.
The are four categories of contraband, but many different variants within each category: - Weapons are a commonly stolen item, especially in dangerous prisons where fights are common. You won’t see it until it’s too late and there are bodies on the floor. - Tools typically come from the workshop or storage rooms, and will be used to dig escape tunnels in a future alpha - Narcotics are a commonly desired item for many bored prisoners and will eventually lead to addictions and erratic behaviour - Luxuries includes anything that makes prison life a little more bearable: a bottle of booze to pass the time, or a mobile phone to call loved ones
There is a new “Contraband” button in the main toolbar which shows an overlay of all possible sources of contraband within your prison. It also handily tells you which categories each item falls into. Some particularly useful items fall into multiple categories: A screwdriver is a tool but can also double as a weapon.
Any contraband found by your guards in the past 12 hours will also show up in this screen as a green circle. You will often want to know how that item of contraband made it into the prison, and your guards are now trained to interrogate prisoners and find out this valuable information. Click on any green circle in the contraband screen and you’ll see a trail revealing the origin and history of that particular item of contraband.
Prisoners will steal things if they personally want that item, but sometimes they won’t be able to find what they want. However every prisoner has his ear to the ground, and he knows what items are in demand. If he wants something he can’t get hold of easily, he’ll steal something else with a high market value and plan to trade it later for the item he really wants. For the player, there is a new reports screen showing the Supply and Demand of all types of contraband within your prison. A high demand indicates problems with your prisoners. A high supply indicates an immediate danger.
We spent quite a lot of time this month working on performance enhancements and bug fixes. We found a lot of memory leaks and performance bugs and fixed them, and the end result is the game is running quite a bit smoother. There’s still a lot of work to be done here but things are definately improved.
You can now purchase neighbouring plots of land. Your accountant has to research “Land Expansion” and then you can click on any edge of your prison land to buy up the neighbouring plot. You can do this as many times as you like, money permitting. We should warn you that we haven’t fully tested what will happen if you expand to the right of the main road. You can build here but there will always be a section of road on which you cannot build, so you’ll never be able to join up the two sides. You might find prisoners on one side decide to walk to the other side, then escape when they find themselves on the road. But try it and see!
We’ve updated the Objects toolbar to intelligently highlight objects that might be useful, given what you are looking at. So if you are looking at a kitchen, you’ll see the cooker, fridge and sink are automatically highlighted. As we add more objects to the list the task of finding what you want is getting harder, and this was our shot at fixing that.
Finally we have an entirely new Timelapse recording feature. You can use this to record timelapse videos of your prison being built. You’ll find the options to control this under Options -> Timelapse, and you can set how often a frame is captured, and the playback rate of those frames. We export videos to your save folder in OGV (ogg video) format, which can be played by VLC, or imported into youtube, etc. Here’s an example of the sort of video you can create: http://youtu.be/Ow2BUfRfxc8
There’s also quite a few bug fixes, and we’ve fixed the issue of Clothing needs leading to riots. It was almost impossible to have a laundry functioning before your prisoners rioted due to clothing, which seemed a little unfair. This won’t happen anymore.
We hope you enjoy alpha 11 - we’ve got some big things planned for alpha 12 and alpha 13, and we’ll see you in a months time with that. We also did our first ever development livestream during alpha 11, and we are hoping to do more during alpha 12. Sign up to our twitch.tv page to stay notified and watch us developing the game live: www.twitch.tv/introversionsoftware
Alpha 10 has been released! Steam users will be automatically updated.
Here is our alpha10 video demonstrating the new features. This video is a bit longer than usual because we had quite a lot of new content to show, and the prison riot at the end took quite a while to sort out. We think it’s totally worth it though! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AvyvTYhB-E
We’d like to start by welcoming all you lovely new Linux users to our game. We are now supplying builds for Linux via steam and as a standalone download from our website. (Free to all users of course). The game should be widely compatible across the various Linux distributions, but please let us know if you have problems by logging bugs in our bug tracker. We have targeted Ubuntu 12.04 (32 bit and 64 bit) as a starting point, and we anticipate wider compatibility in later alphas. Please note that we do require glibc 2.15 or later, which unfortunately means Prison Architect does not currently work on Debian Stable.
We are continuously blown away by some of the prisons our community build. Layouts that we’d never considered, or packing an entire jail into 12x12 squares, or nightmarish concrete hellholes. Now you can share your best prisons with the rest of the world via the Steam Workshop. From the main menu in game you can access our workshop integration, and from there you can publish your prison, or play other peoples prisons at the click of a button. To browse the full list of published prisons click on “Open Steam Workshop”, and you’ll see the Steam Overlay popup with thumbnails of each jail. Click on the green plus to subscribe to a prison, and from then on it will show up in your game list as a playable prison. If the original author updates his prison you will get those updates automatically via steam workshop. We’d like to encourage you all to publish your best prisons - we really want to see what you’ve built with our game.
In the UK milk has to be labelled with “Allergy warning: contains milk”, and in a similar vein we think we are stating the obvious when we say that Steam Workshop integration is only available in the Steam build.
Our most significant change to the game itself comes in the form of an entirely new anger model. We have fundamentally changed the way prisoners get angry and express their anger through violence. Conceptually there is now a prison-wide “Thermometer”, which represents the overall danger level of your prison. It increases over time when you have a lot of angry prisoners (ie their needs are not met). Conversely, when prisoners feel they are well treated they will decrease the overall danger level of the prison. Over time as the anger level rises, more and more prisoners will start to kick off. Other factors affect this danger level as well - punishing a lot of prisoners acts as a deterrent, decreasing the danger level. Riot police on site act as an antagoniser, increasing the danger level. You can see all of this in the status bar at the top of the screen. (Note: Requires the Chief)
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.