Prison Architect Alpha 10 Update Released

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.

Click here to take a look at the Prison Architect Steam Workshop, and all of the prisons currently published:
Prison Architect Steam Workshop

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 they’ve 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 you’ll 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, you’ll 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 don’t 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. We’ve had these units in our internal version of the game for some time, but it’s 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, you’ll 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 we’ve noticed from watching a lot of youtube videos of people playing Prison Architect that they often don’t notice when a fight breaks out slightly off screen. Many times we’ve seen commentators suddenly find some dead bodies and shackled prisoners, and exclaim that they have no idea what happened. So we’ve 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.

That’s all for alpha 10, we hope you enjoy the new features, and we will be back with alpha 11 in one months time.