The ultimate deterrent is here. Having trouble with your prisoners? Constant fights and destruction of property? Deploy armed guards and bring your prison under control with force.
Armed guards have so much authority that all prisoners nearby will begin to feel suppressed. This is a status effect previously accumulated during a stay in solitary confinement. It means the prisoner is so beaten down by the system that he no longer has the will to resist. He will be compliant to your regime, far less likely to cause trouble. Armed guards can project this effect all around your prison, however there is a downside - prisoners who are suppressed for most of their time in jail will eventually be far less amenable to any attempts at reform, skill teaching etc.
Armed guards will not use lethal force unless you give them permission. If they see trouble nearby they will shoulder their weapons and fight with their fists. You must give the ultimate order by clicking the “Weapons Free” emergency button in the bottom right of the screen. (You can’t 100% rely on this though - they are human after all. If they fear they are about to die, they will use their weapons to defend themselves if you’ve given them permission or not.)
Armed guards will always shout a warning to prisoners unless the prisoner is attacking them or another member of staff, and prisoners will often surrender immediately when faced with the prospect of being shot dead. But things can escalate very quickly if you don’t control the situation. Armed guards are perfectly capable of killing everyone in the area, so you must use this power with discretion unless having an empty jail is your thing.
To hire armed guards you must research the Armoury and then construct a room to hold the weapons racks and lockers. Each armed guard needs a locker of his own. The armoury is however a massive security hazard, and prisoners will deliberately target it during a riot or a mass escape. Your most dangerous prisoners will try to break in and arm themselves, which can be very difficult to deal with.
Other changes include a new Forestry zone, which continues our work with the wood cutting industry from alpha 16. Gardeners will automatically plant saplings in the forestry where there is space, and once those saplings have grown into full size trees they will be cut down automatically. Logs will be stacked and hauled back to your workshop. This is a great way to use the empty space of your prison for the purposes of industry and profit, and eventually prisoners will be able to work alongside the gardeners).
Finally we have a much needed improvement to the Objects toolbar. The list of objects had become so large that it no longer fitted on a single screen without a scrollbar, so something had to be done. We now filter the objects list based on what you are looking at, hiding any objects that simply aren’t relevant. For example, we will only show the cooker, fridge, and sink if you are currently constructing a Kitchen. This brings the size of the objects menu right down, and you can still click on the + icon to see the full list if something is missing.
That’s all from alpha 17. We hope you enjoy messing with your new found powers, and we can comfortably predict many violent youtube videos as a result of this month. We will see you again next month when the sound of gunfire and the smell of cordite has left the air.
Happy new year everyone, and welcome to alpha 16. It’s a big one.
For starters, all ‘Name in the Game’ customers can now customize the size, face type and colour of their prisoners by using our new Name in the game system which you can find here. For two weeks only, we're offering all alpha customers the chance to upgrade to our Name in the Game tier for only $10. This will enable you to name a prisoner, write a short bio about why he's inside and customize his look. This is your opportunity to permanently stamp your personality on the game and prove that you were one of the generous few that helped Prison Architect to become a reality.
We’ve made extensive improvements to the AI across the entire range of the game. For the first time ever it is now possible to fully segregate your prison based on prisoner category. You can (for example) create an entirely self contained ‘wing’ within your prison for maximum security prisoners, with its own cells, its own canteen, its own yard, even its own laundry service (staffed by maximum security prisoners of course). These AI improvements also cover the ‘industry’ side of the game, meaning kitchens/canteens/workshops/laundries are all much more efficient, and prisoners staffing them work much more intelligently. Fundamentally the game previously supported only one of these room types. This change is difficult to see in the video, and perhaps hard to fully appreciate, but it touches every area of the game.
With such an extensive change, we’d expect to have introduced quite a few bugs as well as fixing many more.
A side benefit of this change is that prisoners are now able to tell when their route to freedom has not been locked. We see a lot of prisons on Steam Workshop that keep the front doors permanently unlocked, and even sometimes unlock entire sectors (For efficiency - it means you don’t need to wait for guards to unlock doors all the time). What kind of prisoner wouldn’t want to take advantage of this if they could? So prisoners who are near the front of your prison and notice the doors unlocked *might* decide to make a run for it. The more dangerous the prisoner, and the closer he is to the exit, the more likely it is to happen.
We’ve added new options to procedurally generate your starting landscape so it looks a bit less empty. Lakes, forests, sand and even derelict buildings can now be found within your zone. Lakes block all construction and movement, forcing you to be creative in your layouts. The forests have to be cleared but the lumber is itself a resource that can now be harvested - order your workmen to cut the trees down and then sell the logs for a quick cash injection.
Later on when you have a functioning Workshop you can process logs into planks of wood on a bench Saw, and sell the resulting stacks for greater profit. If you find you have some spare space within your land you could even consider planting your own forests, to be harvested entirely for profit later. Trees are now planted by gardeners, begin life as saplings, and take a long time to grow to full size, so this is a long term but highly profitable industry if you have the space. We will be expanding this new wood industry in future alphas, letting you use your prisoners to do the tree planting and felling, and training your prisoners in carpentry to produce high quality furniture from the refined planks of wood.
We’ve extended the mod system so you can now use Steam Workshop to share your mods, or download existing mods. This works in a similar way to prison sharing - just ‘subscribe’ to a mod from within Steam, and it will show up within your mods window auto-magically.
Anybody who has tried to build a prison that spans the road will have found it pretty much impossible, because you cannot build on the road and therefore cannot create a secure zone between the east and west sides of your prison. We’ve introduced a new Road Gate which can be built to span the road, allowing you to run a secure deliveries zone. These road gates act just as all other door types, requiring a guard to unlock them when vehicles want to pass through.
All of that plus a vast collection of bug fixes detailed below - alpha 16 has been a huge update to the core of the game, and has brought us a lot closer to our final vision of how the AI should function. We hope you have fun playing the new version and hope you have a great Christmas, and a happy new year.
It’s been two months since alpha 14, with Chris taking time out to have a baby. Whilst he’s been away the rest of the Introversion team have stepped up to provide a series of awesome updates to the game.
Johnny has continued his focus on performance, delivering a series of optimisations which virtually double the speed of the game in certain conditions. These optimisations are particularly effective on very large maps, and when running the Windows builds. We have now seen several (community made) prisons with 300+ prisoners and 100+ staff, running at a solid frame rate - this was pretty unthinkable even a couple of alphas ago.
Here’s a performance graph from our test map - an extremely large prison with 200 inmates, which used to bring Prison Architect to its knees. You can see how much difference Johnny’s work has made.
Gary has extended the staff simulation so that all staff now become tired as they work. After a while you’ll see their nameplate showing “tired” or “exhausted”, and they’ll be forced to stop work and rest. He’s added a Staff Room to the game, along with some sofas and drinks machines, which you should add to your prisons somewhere appropriate. Staff will recover faster and will feel more rested for longer if they have a staff room to go to.
And then there’s a bit of a wildcard in this version : Leander has added a Mod system, to better support community made mods. We don’t really know where this will go, but we’ll be watching the community closely to see what people do with it. Without any official support our community has already translated the game into Swedish, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Italian, Polish and Turkish (Visit our wiki to download these translations), and they’ve produced mods which add tons of new Grants to the game. With this new official mod system it is now much easier to activate and deactivate those mods in game - and you can run any number of mods simultaneously. You’ll no longer need to hack the game files directly to make a mod work.
If you’re the creator of one of the existing mods, please take some time to update your mod so it works with the new official system. All this entails is creating a manifest.txt (which documents your mod title, version, your name, website etc) and a thumbnail.png, and instructing users to unzip your mod into their appsavefolder/PrisonArchitect/mods/ folder.
If you are interested in creating a mod, we have released some sample mods on the Wiki which you can download and try. They don’t do very much, but they show you how the folder structure works and how you can use lua scripts to drive a story chapter just like our Death Row introduction.
We’ve also added a bunch of small but much requested features to this build - screen edge scrolling, a faster time acceleration button, larger federal grants for max security inmates etc. See the full change list below for details.
That’s all for alpha 15 - we hope you enjoy the new features! We’ll be back with alpha 16 before the end of the year.
Guard dogs have arrived! You can now hire dogs from the staff menu, and they come as a team with a dog handler. Dogs will sniff any nearby prisoners and hiding spots, and can smell drugs and other forms of smelly contraband from several squares away. Assign your dogs to patrols within busy parts of your prison to have them sniff everyone during the day.
Dogs can also sense escape tunnels, although it isn’t quite as easy as that. They will scratch at the floor and bark a bit, but you need to keep an eye on them to notice this and perform appropriate searches within your jail. If they happen to be scratching the floor when there is an actual prisoner digging directly under them, the prisoner is rumbled and the whole tunnel is revealed. We suggest you create long patrol routes around the perimeter of your jail and assign dogs to these, to keep a handle on your escape tunnels.
And if some prisoners do manage to get out of their cells and make a run for it, dogs are excellent at chasing them down. Much faster than the guards, for example.
Dogs do get tired after working for a few hours, and need a Kennel (we suggest an outdoor fenced off area for your dogs) with some dog crates to sleep in. The dog and handler will be out of action when they sleep, so you’ll need shifts of dogs and handlers to keep continuous coverage.
We have also started work on one of the end game features - you can now sell your prison from the Valuation screen. Any profits you have made in this prison will be automatically transferred to a brand new starting location, meaning you can plan much bigger layouts right from the start. You can only sell your prisons once, but nothing stops you going back and continuing to manage a prison you have already sold.
One of the most consistent requests from players is to deal with performance. The game has always lagged quite badly in large prisons or with large prisoner populations. Our resident technical expert John Knottenbelt has spent all month optimising the hell out of the game, and it’s running a great deal faster. The entire pathfinding system is now running on a separate processor, taking advantage of dual core and better setups that most gamers now have. This has lowered the cpu burden of the game, but also means there is much less “backlog” in the pathfinding system - often entities would be waiting around to have their route generated before they could move. Now it all happens virtually instantly. We hope this work will help you plan and build even more epic prisons.
Chris is expecting a baby (his second Son) in about a months time (well, his wife Jo is), so unfortunately our regular monthly alpha process will be disrupted while Real Life takes over for a bit. We are planning to skip the alpha that would have come at the end of October, and aim for alpha 15 at the end of November, ie two months from now. We hope you understand.
As many of you are aware, we broke the pathfinding quite severely in alpha13. We introduced a bug which would cause the Deployment screen to show a greyed out world, meaning no sectors had been found. This had the knock-on effect that all pathfinding would fail, grinding your prison to a halt. Everyone would just stand around, looking lost.
We have now released a hotfix that resolves this issue, and a few others. Steam users will be automatically updated (you may need to restart steam).
The new version number in the main menu should be "alpha13b".
Here is a full list of changes in alpha13b:
- Fixed: Critical bug with deployment system, resulting in a failure to subdivide the map into sectors.
This caused most pathfinding within the game to fail, grinding the prison to a halt.
- Fixed: Punishments maxed out at five hours, regardless of what you set in the Policy screen
- Fixed: Patrol positions were not being saved properly
- Fixed: Bug in the laundry system that prevented prisoners from changing into clean uniforms
- There is now a tooltip in the Patrols screen, to make it clearer how to assign guards to patrols
It’s time to rethink your prison layouts! Prisoners can now dig escape tunnels, using tools they’ve stolen from around the prison. They will do their best to dig around buildings and walls (which slow them down), and they will even co-operate and join up their tunnels and dig together to escape quicker. If they manage to tunnel outside your outer wall they will dig up out of the ground in a puff of dirt, and make a run for it. And we don’t have snipers in the game yet, so it’s just tough luck if they make it that far.
An important thing to realise is that when prisoners are tunnelling, they are actually deep underground and often far away from their cell. However you will still see them in bed asleep. If you search a sleeping prisoner who is actually tunnelling, the fallacy will be immediately revealed - his face will be replaced by a papier mache dummy with a face painted on the front, enough to trick your guards into not realising what was happening. The tunnel will be revealed and the prisoner will pop out of the ground wherever he is, and will make a run for it.
You can build new Perimeter Walls around your prison, which are very tall, very deep and very expensive. Prisoners will do their best to tunnel around these, and will only tunnel through them if there is no other escape route - and it will take a long time to do so. However you can’t build pipes and electrical utilities through these walls, so you’ll need to plan where your weak-spots are going to be.
We also continue to work towards better right wing controls over your prison, for those that want them. You can now research and unlock a new “Policy” report, which allows you to set the type and amount of punishment doled out for fighting, stealing, rioting etc. The defaults are set to exactly how it was before, but if you choose to you could throw prisoners in solitary confinement for 24 hours after a fight, if you thought that was appropriate. This will have a seriously detrimental effect on that prisoner and he will not cause any more trouble for quite some time. On top of that, from the new Policy screen you can request automatic searches of prisoners and their cells when they go off the rails. Catch a prisoner with an escape tool? Automatically search his cell.
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:
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!
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)