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Food For Thought: Prison Architect's Alpha 27 Update

In a recent talk about maintaining motivation and marketing for his game Spy Party, Chris Hecker mentions that “every damned update Prison Architect does” gets a post on RPS because someone who works there just happens to like the game.

o/

Alpha 27 of the prison management sim is out as of late last week and adds a new supply and demand system for food, along with the ability to tap phones and more. The traditional update video is embedded below.

Also, I didn’t write about alpha 26. Take that, Hecker.

The new supply and demand system has been introduced in order to fix long-standing problems with players’ ability to feed their prisoners, such as cooks’ who would produce too much food or food that would be improperly distributed between different canteens. The last update also included a solution to these problems, but it was slightly-cheaty and players discovered they could exploit the bodge in order to teleport food across their prisons.

Now the system is far more robust and properly calculates accurate supply and demand values for different cellblocks, kitchens and canteens. This means that it can automatically work out how much food a cook in a given kitchen needs to make, but a new Logistics screen also gives that information to players so they can tweak the values themselves should the AI get it wrong.

Also featured in the video: the sound of Chris Delay’s son crying in the background. Good annotations for that. Good parenting tips/warnings.

Chris Hecker is at least partly right, in that I do just happen to like Prison Architect. I also think it’s one of the better games for this kind of development method, though. Each new addition doesn’t just add a new button for players to push at or a new location for them to visit, but tips, twists and bends Prison Architect’s simulation in some new way. That means small or individual changes – the kind which the PA team can add in a month of work – can have large knock-on effects for persistent players, as well as making each update video interesting and entertaining to watch in its own right.

The full update notes are available over at the Prison Architect forum.

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Graham Smith

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Graham is to blame for all this.

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