Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up is a tactical management sim set on the London Underground that blends base-building, pausable real-time strategy, and spatial puzzling.
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Release Date:
Spring 2019

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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“Overcrowd: A Commute ‘Em Up is a hybrid of several genres with many interacting elements. That means it’s going to take time to balance every system so that they work perfectly with each other. The scope of the game means that we will be adding new objects, layering new systems of behaviour, and evolving the economy throughout early access. We would like to use our time in Early Access to hear as much feedback as we can. This will help us decide what features to add, alter or even remove to make the Overcrowd the best experience possible.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We expect Overcrowd: A Commute ‘Em Up will be in Early Access for most of 2019 at the very least. But with our experience of the development so far there's a reasonable chance that it will be longer (or possibly shorter). The final spec of the game before it's finished is by no means set in stone, and will be heavily influenced by your feedback during the Early Access process.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“Currently the game focuses on a campaign mode, with a series of increasingly difficult stations to build and manage. Procedural generation of map terrain, building, commuter behaviour and staff management are all in place and ready to be iterated on/added to.

We'll add new features that will enable the player the maniplulate their station enviroment with greater precision as well as introduce more commuter types and events, more objects, and more underlying systems. Together this will contribute to a greater range and depth of experience.

We will laso aim to include a sandbox mode so players can attempt to build and run stations as grand as their imaginations (and commuters) will allow, but as with everything, this will depend on your feedback.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“All of the core features are in place and we're undergoing alpha testing. The game is playable and relatively stable, with several hours of fun to be had completing the campaign. Because the campaign is procedurally generated, there is a large amount of replayability already present in the game. This will only increase during early access.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“The base price may be increased upon release from Early Access.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“We're always talking to our community to get feedback about what's fun, how to improve the gameplay and which new features to add next, and to let them know where we're up to with develop.

There's a bunch of ways to get in touch. Check out our Facebook, Twitter, Discord and Reddit pages, or our Steam forum and let us know what you think.”
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Available: Spring 2019


Recent updates View all (6)

October 31

Of Early Access, Autumn and A.I.

The bracing air, the pollution-tinged fog and the crinchy-crunching of leaves underfoot tell but me one thing: Summer is over. That and the fact I am no longer sitting here in my pants sweating profusely (seriously, the heatwave in London this summer was intense).

Anyway, you didn’t come here for a dubious weather report. You want hard facts, and you want them … some time ago. So here it is, an all new update on What’s Been Going On over here at Overcrowd Towers as no one calls it.

Following our success at EGX Rezzed, where (did I mention?), amongst other favourable previews we were named by Kotaku as one of 8 Standout Indie Games at the show, I have been taking the opportunity to do some maintenance on the code base.

I started coding Overcrowd on a part-time basis in Gamemaker 1.4, back in late 2013 when I had significantly more hair. However, since then Gamemaker 2 (GM2) has been released, support for 1.4 has ceased, I went full time on the game and my hairline has migrated north.

To make sure the game is future-proofed against platform updates, this summer I moved the project over to GM2. After some initial hiccoughs* I can report it is now up and running and working nicely. This is great news because it not only opens the door to putting the game out on other platforms in the future, but ensures continuing support on Windows/Steam.

Over summer I also took some time to refactor some of the core “building” code – specifically the way the walls and floor tiles are handled - and to revisit the commuter A.I, which needed work to make it both more reliable and more efficient. All together this was a long and fairly frustrating process, because, while 100% necessary, it didn’t bring any major exciting new features. But now it’s done, and the game now handles far better for it. Onwards.

Following the commuter refactoring I was able to build further on their A.I. There are now around a dozen or so special behaviour types, including commuter rage, brutes, pickpocket, heatstroke, flu, cardiac arrest, vandal and vomiting. The way movement is handled has also been improved so that commuters can push each other out of their way, which both looks funny and is marginally more efficient too.

Shopping around
I also more fully implemented and refined commuter buying behaviour. This is a complex cascading system of needs that feeds back into the gameplay/need to expand the station. If a commuter wants to buy something but can’t, they will be sad, and your station loses some reputation. However, if you have similar products their needs will be met to a degree. Products are divided into 4 main categories: food, drink, goods and services. The current system means I can gradually expand needs and shops as development progresses.

On top of the 8 or so existing shops, I have now added a flower stall, a hot dog stand and vending machine, with many more planned now that the core system is near final.

Stats more like it
After this I added some detailed report systems. Everyone wants to see their stats, right? The reports let you do just that. You can examine in detail how commuters feel about their station experience. Do they feel late, do they need more shops? Overcrowded? Angry? Diseased? Is there too much litter or perhaps too much vomit?

There are over 20 metrics you can see here in a quite-cool live updating bar chart. In another tab you can see finances: your income and outgoings on that day or over the station life time. Another lets you see power usage, complete with live bar charts showing power drain per machine while they are being used, including of course train tracks, which use the most.

You can also view the sales figures of all your shops and what sentiment they evoked in the customers, allowing you to vary price points. You can set prices low to cheer people up, but you will lose money in the long run. If you are broke and need the cash, you can boost the prices, but be prepared to deal with the loss of rep.

Fixed that
I finally added the tool box. Machines can break down (through use or by getting smashed up by vandals), and staff are now able to fix them up. Other tools added were a defibrillator and a drip for cardiac arrest and heatstroke victims, respectively. Oh, and a taser for stunning crims too.

This completes the set of basic tools which operate across the 5 staff skill sets in the game: people, refuse, medic, security, technician. I’m now able to iterate on the tools, by which I mean, you will soon be able to procure and build better tools to use.

New facilities
I’ve also added 2 new types of trains, along with some more advanced power generators, and some other tech including PA systems, and updated the cooling code for fans, air vents and air conditioners.

Campaigns and sandbox
A lot of work has gone into campaign continuity. The campaign is entirely procedural, and you can enter a key at the start to generate it. The idea is that you can train your staff as play (they level up and learn skills by doing), and take them to your next station with you, along with the tech you have unlocked. This is now all working smoothly, although the actual “overworld” map does not yet change shape yet, and I plan on redoing that.

The other major area of work has been in events and scenarios. In campaign, maps can now have a range of scenarios in them. This might include classics such a rodent problems, heatwaves, flus, crime waves and the like. Now implemented, I’m working on balancing the frequency and impact they have on the game.

I’m also working on balancing the “sandbox” mode. There has been much discussion about sandbox mode lately, both for other recently launched management sims and over in the Overcrowd Discord server. The general consensus being a) people want one! and b) it should be flexible, to allow for more creative and freeplay styles.

This will be something I will look to have in at launch, most likely with an option to specify how much money you start with and an option to unlock all the tech from the outset, along with an option to toggle scenarios/events. This could all change but that’s my current thinking. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Early access and launch
Oh, did someone mention launch? Yes, I do intend to actually ship this game one day! Because of the work on refactoring, moving to Gamemaker 2 and the like, it looks certain that Overcrowd will now be released in 2019 rather than 2018 as I had once hoped. I can only apologise for that. I’m sorry! And I thank you for still waiting around for this game (if you do that is, I won’t presume).

I do feel I owe it to you to give a more reliable date of when to expect Overcrowd, so I will tentatively say that I’ll be doing my best for a Spring 2019 launch. Look out for more details, and perhaps a super duper official Announcement Date Trailer, next year.

On top of that, you may now notice, the game is now officially tagged as Early Access on Steam. At points this year I thought there would be a chance I could do a full release launch. However, it’s increasingly clear this is a game that really does suit Early Access. I want to hear from you, to learn from your views, to sculpt the game both to fit your expectations, but also to bring my own unique take on the management sim/pausable RTS/basebuilder/crowd management/spatial puzzler genre.

I feel there’s been a bit of trend to rush games into a full release to avoid the “stigma” of Early Access, but it’s my hope that Early Access, if done right, can still work just fine, especially when the dev is committed to making it work. And, dear reader, I am oh so committed!

The future is unwritten
There are a few other exciting things on the horizon for Overcrowd, and I can’t wait to tell you more about them. Until then, consider dropping by Discord if you have any questions, or pop a question in the Steam forum.

* yes you can correctly spell hiccups like this. Who knew?
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September 11

Overcrowd Discord server now live

Ever wondered what aspect of Overcrowd I am working on right now? Sure you could post a question in the Steam discussion forum (and please do!), but it could be hours before I notice and reply.

You're a busy person. You don't want to be waiting around for a forum reply. No, you want real time discourse. You want a fully featured online chat room, with seperate rooms for general chat and announcements. You want optional voice chat. You want a place where you can see new development screenshots and gifs as soon as I make them. That's why I've launched a server on Discord.

If it sounds like your thing (and come on, how could it not be!?), drop by the Overcrowd Discord server and say hi. Hope to see you there!

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“Hugely satisfying ... Overcrowd seems likes a great spin on the Theme template, and I can’t wait to try it again”

“Cool-looking ... quirky-looking ... blends base-building, pausable real-time strategy, and spatial puzzling”
PC Gamer

“A great looking game that has a nice Theme Hospital vibe ... promises plenty of chaos-filled business management”
Alpha Beta Gamer

About This Game

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.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Handmade isometric pixel art
    Overcrowd uses high res, handmade pixel art with no 3D engine shortcuts. View from four angles with high level zoom to see all the detail.

  • Heat signatures
    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.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows
    • Processor: TBC
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: TBC
    • Storage: 200 MB available space
    • Sound Card: TBC
    • Additional Notes: TBC

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