Based in London, UK
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About the game
Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up is a pausable RTS / management sim / base builder set on the London Underground.
Inspired by classic management titles such as Theme Park and Theme Hospital, Overcrowd is the work of boyfriend/girlfriend development duo Alastair McQueen and Sarah Testori. The pair seek to add a unique spin to the genre with an emphasis on crowd flow management, tactical staff deployment and spatial puzzling across procedural terrain.
Overcrowd is notable for its detailed and colourful isometric pixel art, and the ability to build your dream (or possibly nightmare) station across multiple floors. Commuters respond to the station environment around them, and if they encounter things they don’t like – such as litter, crowds, rats, vomit or blood – it tends to make them unhappy.
Unlike management sims of yore, players have direct control over staff. They must build a team to deal with any problems using a selection of tools, whilst keeping them well nourished, rested and levelled up. There is also an economy and procurement tree to think about.
Alastair is a former copywriter who dabbled in games writing before deciding to try making one instead. He codes the game.
Sarah has a PhD in molecular genetics. This doesn’t help at all when doing the artwork.
Together, they are Squareplay Games.
Overcrowd has been in development for 3 years, during which time it has evolved from simple mobile time waster to a fully-fledged “grown up” title for PC. The game was conceived following years of commuting hell in London. Founder Alastair McQueen thought: "This is horrible, but maybe it could make a fun game?"
Alpha Trailer YouTube
FeaturesOld school 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.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.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.
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Awards & Recognition
- "In Kotaku UK's top 8 standout indie games" - EGX Rezzed 2018
- "Hugely satisfying"
- Kotaku UK, here
- "Overcrowd is an awesome little indie isometric strategy game. It’s a “Commute ’Em Up!”"
- Peach's Castle, here
- "Overcrowd is a fantastic looking new isometric real time strategy/business management game"
- Alpha Beta Gamer, here
- "Welcome to commuting hell ... Think Command and Conquer blended with Lemmings in the Theme Hospital universe."
- Gamerzunite, here
- "Overcrowd: A Commute ‘Em Up takes the time management and community recreation sub-genre to a whole new level of frenetic action and fast-paced craziness."
- One Angry Gamer, here
- "Crowd dynamics and the AI are simple but reactive, and allow for emergent game play that feels different every time."
- 3rd-strike, here
- "“We came across a game that mashed up the best bits of classic games such as Theme Park and Theme Hospital and placed it in a UK Tube Station.”"
- Indie Retro News, here
- "I love the art in this game ‘Overcrowd’. Reminds me a bit of theme hospital, so much vomit!"
- Introversion Software, via Twitter
- "The concept is brilliant."
- 2016 funding application rejection feedback, UK Games Fund
Coding & games design