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Overcrowd is a tactical management sim set on the London Underground. Blending base building with pausable real-time strategy, Overcrowd offers a unique mix of spatial puzzling, strategic thinking and split-second choices. It is available for wishlisting on Steam now.

Deep beneath the city, a war is waged. It's called the commute.

Every day, millions crowd the tube in a desperate bid to get to work. Can you build and run the perfect metro station to help them make it on time?

Overcrowd is a tactical management sim set on the London Underground. Blending base building with pausable real-time strategy, Overcrowd offers a unique mix of spatial puzzling, strategic thinking and split-second choices.

Overcrowd wishlist loop


  • Old school isometric pixel art
    Overcrowd uses high res, handmade pixel art with no use of 3D engines. View from four angles with high level zoom to see all the detail.
  • Procedural spatial puzzles
    Each level has procedurally generated terrain, offering a fresh spatial puzzle about which to design and run your station. With a choice of entrances and tracks, physical obstacles, and limited space and money, you'll have to weigh up your decisions carefully.
  • Unique multi-floor building
    Sculpt your station concourse down to 4 levels underground. Escalators and lifts are planned for Early Access.
  • Tactical staff deployment
    In Overcrowd you have direct control over your staff. You’ll need to assemble a crack team, tool them up and deploy them to run your station in real time. You can also assign them multiple jobs with different priorities. Pausing the action by hitting space gives you time to react and plan.
  • Detailed micro simulation > emergent gameplay
    Everything from bin emptying, generator refueling, power, litter collection, commuter AI and staff activities are simulated down to the individual level. The huge range of interacting systems gives scope for emergent and unpredictable gameplay.
  • Thermal modelling
    Anyone who’s ever travelled on the tube in summer knows the heat can get out of control. Overcrowd models temperature and gives you thermoimaging, air con and fans to help keep your station cool.
  • Unique crowdflow mechanic
    Manage the flow of your commuters via station layout, user-defined directional signage or by ushering them with staff.
  • Unlocking, upgrading, expanding
    Unlock better equipment, shops and tools via the procurement (tech) tree.
  • Turning a profit
    Overcrowd features an economy driven by live commuter purchasing. Set shop prices and restock rates in order to make a profit and expand your station further.
  • Commuter AI
    Commuters respond to their surroundings: different environmental insults will affect them in different ways - making them angry, panicked, unhappy or even diseased. Everything that happens affects your station reputation.
  • Criminality
    Early Access will see a range of criminal behaviours introduced to commuters including theft and fare dodging. You will be able to use staff to incarcerate or eject law breakers.
  • Staff behaviour
    Your staff have needs too. Build a comfortable and well stocked staff room to keep them happy, rested and nourished. They also have skills and attributes which can be levelled up or improved through practice.

Stay updated here:

https //www.reddit.com/r/Overcrowd/
https //twitter.com/SquarePlayGames

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Metro-themed management sim Overcrowd: A Commute ‘Em Up is now available to wishlist on Steam, ahead of an Early Access launch planned later this year.

An alpha build of the pausable RTS/basebuilder, which is set on the London Underground, will also be playable by the public at EGX Rezzed – London’s premier games event - next week. To mark the announcement we've put together a short Alpha trailer, and I've decided to detail the progress that I've made on the game this year. You can see it on our steam page.

trailer pans8

As ever, I have been working hard on Overcrowd since the last blog and in that time have made lots of incremental progress, plus some key feature additions that are really bringing the game together. Here's a broad overview starting from low level more system stuff going up to larger gameplay design.

Contextual cursor, GUI and UI

First up, and lowest level is GUI work. I spent a fair amount of time on updating the cursor to include contextual information about what you are doing/what mode you are in at that time. So when you’re in build mode, you can see how much you are going to spend and on what.

If you have staff in deploy mode you can see that, and if you are hovering a tool to pick up/de-equip it will tell you that too. This makes (I suppose unsurprisingly in retrospect!) a huge difference to how it feels when you’re playing the game, because basically you know what’s going on all the time.

Overcrowd is (I suppose) fairly complex in so I think it’s good to explain as much as possible. In a similar vein all buttons and GUI elements have a hover over tool tip, but that’s been in place a good while.

Some other GUI updates include more status alerts to show you problems – eg. If you run out of power and several other things, and some new text alerts that explain what is upsetting or making a commuter sad. This helps to convey what your commuters are feeling – which directly impacts on your station reputation.

I also added a bunch of other lower level stuff like volume sliders, redefinable control mapping, user defined screen scroll/push margins and acceleration, plus more hazard icons to highlight things like dropped litter, rats, vomit and fumes when you hit pause (spacebar by default). Thre is also more GUI to show commuter anger level as an icon that fills up red, plus improvements to staff files, showing negative effects when hungry or sad, and how this might make them perform worse.

I also recently added a new UI which hugs the edge of the screen, letting you see more play area, and has a smarter more modern feel with a flatter look.



Trains are obviously a key part of the Overcrowd experience! A tube station without trains would clearly be a bit of failure. Up until Autumn last year I only had 2 carriage trains. This update I added the ability for having trains of any length. But this was tricky.

In terms of gameplay, the ability to have trains of different lengths was really critical. The game is all about designing the best space for maximising commuter turnover, so having a longer platform allow longer trains was key.

Overcrowd trains

Procedural maps

Finally I have formalised the way procedural terrain generation works. When you enter a new map a play area is generated with a different size, different starting shapes and different rocks. A selection of track blueprints are placed (where you can decide to build platforms) and pavements at the perimeter (where you can choose to build entrances). Each track or pavement comes with a set of figures – commuter rate (how fast commuters enter/fill train from said point), and then some baseline commuter behaviours mean anger, health, money, crime rate, litter rate. The commuters who enter from that access point will have behaviours randomly grouped around those values.

The idea here is that each map is a sort of dynamic puzzle space. You will have a target to shift a certain number of commuters, and to use a certain number of tracks/entrances. The starting floor space is free, and also permanent (you cannot sell it). In this way you get to choose how to use the space – taking into account the type of commuter you might get from each access point, and how many.

Want to use those doors with a high flow rate? Sure thing, but beware because they are really angry when coming from that doorway. But that might be ok because you have staff good at coping with angry people (ie high security skill). Or perhaps that entrance is a bit hard to build to, being fairly distant and costly to reach.. but the commuters from there are happy and do not litter much, so it’s worth it, because this means you will save on buying so many bins.

On top of the commuter behaviour aspect, is the pure design of the station, allowing enough space, directing the commuters in a shape and that makes sense.

In addition there are obstacles like rocks, water and grassy areas that cannot be built on, about which you must design your layout.

Overcrowd trailer jobs2

Dynamic Staff

Applicants are now generated procedurally per station with different base skills and abilities. More skilled or more able staff cost more to hire and pay. You can choose who you want. Maybe you want a super fast staff member with low strength as they are only doing one job. Or maybe you want an all-rounder who costs a bit more, but with high perception. Perception is fairly valuable as it governs how large a radius staff will autonomously act on their priorities. Aside from that staff can be manually deployed, in a pausable RTS style.

Overcrowd procure

Heat signatures

Something I’ve long planned as a mechanic is heat and thermoimaging. Heatwaves have always been a possibility in the game, but now I’ve gone ahead and added full temperature modelling which required a crash course in Newtons Second law of thermodynamics. I’m not saying its totally physically accurate of course, but the net result is all objects now have a heat capacitance and temperature conductivity is modelled. Over time machines and humans will generate heat which will gradually disipate into surrounding areas. If people get too hot they will pass out and need medical attention.

This feeds into the dynamic puzzle nature of the station design. If you build too small an area it will heat up all the faster with resultant problems – although it will be cheaper. Further we’ve added a bunch of objects you can procure to mitigate overheating. Multiple classes of fans and also air conditioning are possible to help – but then you have the pay off of more energy use. And of course.. power generators are one of the biggest heat generators.

Currently you can let heat out of your station by building grills, and I hope in the future we’ll have a full air duct building, however that wont be until we are later into Steam early Access if at all.

The mechanic further plays into environment considerations: build near water and you can have hotter things because the water is great at soaking up the heat. (although, of course, what if there is a flood!? I say no more just now!).

Procurement (tech) tree

Unlike other base builders, there are no resources to harvest as such in Overcrowd. However transporting commuters acts as a kind of resource, in that the more people you shift, the more “currency” you earn with City Hall, who will pay you bonds. These can be spent to unlock new tech to either further automate, improve or expand your station. Alternatively, they can be used to hire staff, as an initial one off fee (following that staffa re paid hourly with money from station funds). I have now implemented this system and it seems to be working fairly well in testing. I feel like it completes the game loop well.

Next steps

Depending on stability, optimisation and testing, I am cautiously optimistic that I can hit Early Access in the nearish future. I hope you can follow the dev and maybe consider wishlisting Overcrowd on Steam and maybe even helping shape the game throughout early access and beyond.

Overcrowd wishlist loop

Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up - Devblog 12

Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up - Devblog 12

News 9 comments

An update on my progress with Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up, a pausable RTS/management sim/basebuilder set on the London underground.

Overcrowd update

Overcrowd update

News 2 comments

Overcrowd has undergone a substantial rewrite, evolving into a full on multi-level-station-building, staff-training, shift-scheduling management sim with...

Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up Greenlight Trailer Live

Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up Greenlight Trailer Live

News 2 comments

Another quick update about the new trailer for Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up - a new crowd flow and commuter managaement/RTS action hybrid for PC from solo...



News 1 comment

My first post on IndieDb. Here I detail what I have been working on Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em up in recent months, along with a short description of how...



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