After a long playthrough of the game, we concluded that the Finance system was most in need of some development love this month. It has become common practice to cheat your way to $1,000,000 in the bank because there is simply no other way to raise that kind of capital, and the game becomes boring when you have to wait for it to roll in. There are many mods that filled the gap by adding more grants to the game. Furthermore, if you use all the official grants up (all four of them) and still have a negative cashflow, you have literally no way to recover other than cheating, because your bank balance will be decreasing every day and you won’t be able to afford to build new facilities. It was clear that Finance needed looking at. Urgently.
We’ve added a ton of new official grants, and added new requirements to them as well. You can now only have two grants running at once, although your accountant to expand that to three - so be careful which ones you choose. Grants can have “Pre-requisites” before they become available to you - eg you must have completed a previous grant, or have a certain number of prisoners on site. Some grants are hidden and will only reveal themselves when the conditions are right. There is a new special “Government Bailout” grant that acts as a second life - if you run out of money and have a negative cashflow, the government will put together a rescue package and bail you out of trouble. But only once.
You can now borrow money from the bank, and repay interest every hour. Every successful repayment increases your credit rating, and allows you to borrow more.
Once you have a high value prison, you can sell shares in the facility - effectively selling a share of your prison to investors in exchange for money. They will pay you 10% of the total prison value, in exchange for 10% ownership of the prison. This can be an excellent way to raise money, but those investors are not acting out of the goodness of their hearts - they expect a profitable return, and will take their share of the prison sale price when you do come to sell up.
All prison establishments are now expected to pay Corporation Taxes, at 30% of all profit. We advise you keep declared profits as low as possible in the early stages - by re-investing your profits into wages and expanding your prison. Once you start making big profits you can ask your accountant to work on reducing your tax burden.
We have updated the industry system so that your produced goods are exported properly now. (Previously they were magically sold at midnight, vanishing out of existence). There is now a new Exports zone which should be placed near the road, and all your trade goods will be hauled there to be loaded up onto delivery trucks and taken away for sale. This is far more realistic, but also has the added benefit that you will receive income throughout the day as your goods are sold, rather than in a lump sum at midnight. We’ve extended this hourly model to all areas of the cashflow as well - your daily income is now paid in 24 hourly payments, spreading out the income over the day. It was felt that waiting for midnight every day was deeply unsatisfying.
On top of that there are tons of balance changes and bug fixes, many related to finance. The whole game should be significantly more playable now without resorting to grants mods or cheats. We hope you have fun playing alpha 19, and we will see you again for alpha 20 in one month.
It’s been another massive month, with several major successes. This month we tackled one of our big end game features : prisoner reform. You can now run prisoner reform programs which aim to train, educate and reform your inmates. Reform programs are expensive to run, take a long time to complete, and the success rates are often very low unless your prisoners are very well taken care of. Some bring substantial benefits to your prison and the inmates that take part, others are a longer term investment in your prisoners that may provide little short term benefit.
All prisoners must now complete a workshop safety induction, or a kitchen hygiene program, before they are permitted to work in the workshop and kitchen. We felt it was unrealistic that you could just dump 20 brand new prisoners into a dangerous workshop with heavy machinery and have them start stamping out number plates. Violent prisoners can be sent to the prison psychologist for some anger management. And the more academically minded of your inmates (maybe those convicted of fraud or computer crime ;) can work towards new education qualifications in the new classroom. The teachers are a new type of staff member that you do not hire directly - instead they come in from the outside every day to teach their course, then go home in the evenings.
Once prisoners are trained and working in the workshop, you can put the most skilled of them through a carpentry apprenticeship. Once completed these prisoners will be able to make high quality wooden furniture on the new carpenters table. This furniture can be sold for increased profits on the raw materials. In future alphas we’ll be making use of this furniture.
We have continued to expand the armoury originally introduced in alpha 17. You can now unlock tazers for your armed guards, and eventually issue them to all the guards and dog handlers in your prison. These are non lethal weapons that instantly incapacitate a prisoner without causing any damage, however they can only be fired once before needing a full hour to recharge. Perfect when a prisoner is smashing up his cell, not so great when outnumbered in a riot. We have also added new stab vests to the armoury, which give your guards extra protection in a fight, but slow down their movement as well.
There’s lots more in the full change list below. We hope you enjoy the new features, and we will see you all in a month with alpha 19. Thanks!
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.