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 wont see it until its 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.
Alpha 11 has been released! Steam users will be automatically updated.
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. Theres 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 havent 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 youll 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!
Weve 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, youll 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. Youll 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. Heres an example of the sort of video you can create:
YouTube™ Video: Prison Architect Timelapse Views: 301 Recorded using the brand new feature in alpha11 - record a timelapse of your prison being constructed!
Theres also quite a few bug fixes, and weve 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 wont happen anymore.
We hope you enjoy alpha 11 - weve got some big things planned for alpha 12 and alpha 13, and well 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
Wed 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 wed 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 youll 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. Wed like to encourage you all to publish your best prisons - we really want to see what youve 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)
All prisoners now have a boiling point on the danger level thermometer, which represents the point at which they will kick off and start fighting/smashing/escaping etc. Violent maximum security prisoners with many years to serve will have quite a low boiling point, and hence will kick off earlier in the process. (If they have decades to serve, what do they have to lose?) Your minimum security prisoners in for fraud etc (ie non violent) who will be released very soon have a much higher boiling point, and are therefore much less likely to kick off, even if they have complaints of their own. The boiling point of any particular prisoner can also be affected by their surroundings - lots of guards in the area will hugely increase the boiling point of prisoners in that area, because they know they will be caught and punished if they do anything. If theyve been locked in solitary confinement for a long time their boiling point will also temporarily rise, meaning they will not cause any trouble for some time.
This new model has a lot of potential for the future as well. In future alpha versions, searching cells will increase the danger level of your prison, and searching everyones cell will result in a huge temporary spike in the danger level due to the anger and distress caused. So youll always be balancing the need for security versus the chance you stir up the hornets nest, and trigger a full-scale riot. If you want to create a hard line regime with strict punishments and daily searches, youll need a lot of guards to hold it together, but it will be possible to focus on security and effectively ignore the prisoners needs. We will finally have the possibility of right wing (high security / strict discipline / heavy punishments) prisons as well as left wing (welfare / reform / human rights) prisons.
Speaking of full-scale riots, these now occur when the danger level of your prison rises too high. Rioting prisoners will capture their cell block (it turns red currently), and will attack any guards or riot police in the area and steal their keys and weapons. They will then smash down all the internal doors and free all the prisoners locked up in the area, before extending the riot into neighbouring cell blocks. Your guards and staff will not go near captured cell blocks, and you will gradually lose control of your whole prison if you dont put it down quickly.
In order to deal with this new threat, we have introduced two new emergency units into the game - riot police, and paramedics. Both are called from the emergencies menu, just like the existing fire department. Riot police are much tougher than normal guards and will happily march into captured sectors to recapture them. Weve had these units in our internal version of the game for some time, but its taken us a long time to get them ready for public release.
Our audio guy Alistair Lindsay has added a ton of new audio elements to the game for alpha 10, to underscore the new anger model and rioting. You can now get lots of warning when trouble is brewing by listening to the sounds of your crowds of prisoners. If you can hear booing and hissing then the crowd is angry, but not yet violent. If you hear metal cups clanging against walls then this means trouble is imminent, and you should get some guards in there asap. If things do escalate into a full-scale riot, youll hear a whole new dynamic musical score - the music changes as the riot progresses. Alistair has really outdone himself here, and the prisons of alpha10 can sound like very dangerous places indeed when things are out of control.
Finally weve noticed from watching a lot of youtube videos of people playing Prison Architect that they often dont notice when a fight breaks out slightly off screen. Many times weve seen commentators suddenly find some dead bodies and shackled prisoners, and exclaim that they have no idea what happened. So weve introduced some new incident markers - these blue circles will popup on the edge of your screen and direct you to trouble whenever a guard sees it happening. You can click on them to move immediately to the trouble. This should help players keep an eye on trouble when it does break out.
Thats all for alpha 10, we hope you enjoy the new features, and we will be back with alpha 11 in one months time.
The ninth installment of the Prison Architect Alpha has today been released, and its a big one. Weve 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 weve 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 theyve 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. Its 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 wasnt 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.
Theres 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! Its 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. Weve got big plans for alpha10 as well, which should be another big one. In the mean time, enjoy the latest version.