All strategy games strive to reach a certain balance; the point at which the player feels responsible for their successes and failures, but where the simulation is so complex and alive that a perfect, static system can never be built. That's apparently what motivates Prison Architect's 25th alpha, "one of the biggest updates" Introversion say they've ever done. The main new addition is prisoner reputations, a system of personality types that will make creating a perfectly functioning, forever peaceful prison practically impossible.
As ever, there's a video talkthrough and some more detail of the changes below.
The full list of changes explains how the different prisoner reputations function:
- STRONG hits harder with each punch during fights
- TOUGH can withstand a lot more punishment in a fight. He can also sometimes withstand being hit by a Tazer
- VOLATILE liable to kick off without warning and for no reason
- STOICAL will not become suppressed when locked in Solitary
- SNITCH a known informant, and as such his life may be in danger. Don't leave him alone with other prisoners for too long
- DEADLY a master in lethal combat moves, and can sometimes kill with a single hit
- EX LAW was once a Police Officer, or some other law enforcement profession. His life may be in danger
- COP KILLER guilty of murdering a Police Officer. Your prison guards may be unable to restrain themselves when subduing him
- FEARLESS not intimidated by the sight of Armed Guards, and is less likely to surrender during a fight
- QUICK an unusually fast runner
- INSTIGATOR sows seeds of discontent in all those nearby. When he causes trouble, nearby prisoners will feel compelled to do the same
Which all sounds very exciting. You'll also very occasionally receive a "Legendary Prisoner"; a criminal who has so many above the traits that they'll be extremely dangerous if let loose among your regular population.
Other changes include an overhaul of escape tunnels, the ability to put your prison informants (added in the last alpha) into protective custody, and lots of other things.
Prison Architect is still in alpha development, but is among the most fully-featured games still laying claim to the early access tag. Check out Brendan's diary of the game from late last year, when running a stable prison was already too hard for the likes of us.