Alpha 14 has been released! Here is our alpha14 video demonstrating the new features:
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.
In the mean time, enjoy the new features (there’s a ton of additional stuff in the full change list below) and we will see you all soon: