This guide aims to tackle any problem one may encounter in their game that could eventually make players frustrated, or worse losing the game. This guide's content is written based on the campaign mode in Normal difficulty in game version Alpha 96, and one can expect this guide to be obsolete when the game development progresses.
Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up is all about design and management of train stations. While this game is fun, there are two main issues that players have to deal with in order to not lose the game. This guide would guide you through this two issues, and how to avoid/deal with them.
The first issue is station reputation. Different station starts with different amount of reputation points, and these rep points would determine if you are doing good or you are gonna lose the game. To begin with, let's talk about what would cause your station reputation to decrease.
Perhaps the most obvious one is overcrowding your station, as suggested by this game's title. Overcrowding is a real issue, and it could cause a lot of problem. For example, later in the game, when first aid box is available for unlock, your commuters would start to get sick, and overcrowding would make the spread of disease prevalent. Moreover, overcrowding itself would generate a lot of negative reputations.
Unfortunately, there are currently no measures to stop commuters from enter your station, however, there are certain things that you can do to control the crowd.
First, when you build your platform, you are advised to leave sufficient space for commuters to go around both in the concourse and in the paid areas. For the platform, leaving 2-3 spaces away from the platform would be suffice, so that you can place PA, benches, ads, and trash bins and still have some spaces left. For the concourse, it is hard to say what is a sufficient space, it depends on the commuter rate. Here is a photo with a small station design.
This was my Zone 4 for the seed "JonAppleseed", it was not a very good design as the concourse and the platform has a very limited area. But as a smaller station with low commuter rate, it is just enough (as suggested by the reputation). Though I would recommend expanding the concourse and paid areas by moving the tool room further away. Here is a photo with suffice commuter area.
This is my design for Zone 3 of the same seed. The concourse and platform area are sufficiently large. In Zone 3 commuters have vendor needs, so I put hot dog bar in the platform area due to the scarce of space in concourse.
Second, you would like to have one staff constantly using their megaphone and usher the commuters to walk faster, that way they would not stand on a point and stuck the passages. PA would help a bit but megaphone would help the most.
Disease and Vomit
In Zone 4, the ability to unlock first aid procurement is granted, that means your commuters might start to get sick. This has nothing to do with your station environment (though noxious fumes can make them sick), commuters could be prone to sickness if it is the norm of your station. This could be checked in Report > Summary > Disease index.
Commuters in later zones are more prone to sickness, so you should have staffs ready to heal commuters anytime, and wipe the floor for any vomit, because vomit can spread the disease, too, as well as decreasing your reputation.
Commuters would always complaint about high price, even at 10 pounds, which is the default price, going between 10 to 12 pounds should be good, as other positive reputation items could cover this. For other vendor items, I never play with the prices, but you can feel free to try.
Gloomy means your station is dark, it can deplete your station's reputation really badly. So your first station in Zone 5 started off with 2 bonds, you are recommended to spend it on lightings first, to ensure that your station is not gloomy. The light logos when you are building lightings would suggest how much do the light spread across the station, you are advised to build lights a little bit packed than it would spread as light source gradually fall off.
So these are the major items that would deplete your reputation, now let's talk about the major items that raises your reputation.
Obviously, for building a train station, your major goal is to bring your commuters to their destination, and for each one boarding the train and alighting, you have one person completed their journey, which is good. You are advised to unlock more carriages and new stock type ASAP because this would increase your station's throughput, and reduce the problem of overcrowding. New stock type would also consume less energy, and have a shorter cooldown time for the next train to arrive.
What it means by aesthetics is having plants, they do account for 9-10% of your positive reputation, which is a lot. If you check the screenshots above, I put two plants at each side of the turnstile and that is enough to keep my commuters happy, though you are reminded to water them regularly, as dead plants would generate negative reputation towards your station. If you are to skip the night to save some wages and time, you are advised to manually have your staffs to water your plants before pressing the button, because skipping the night could instantly generate dead plants.
Later in the game when goods vendor is available, such as kiosk, hot dog stands, crisps machine, etc, these commerce items would increase your reputation considerably, they also generate revenue for your station, consider setting them up when you have space, though be careful not to concentrate them in a certain area, they would cause overcrowd problem, and disease are inclined to spread.
The second issue here is staff management, it does not only include micromanagement, but something more. Basically from the choice of staff, assign them tasks, and training.
Here is a peek of my staffs:
The first two staffs are hired in Zone 5, and have been trained throughout the gameplay from Zone 5 to Zone 2, the 2 after are hired in Zone 2. You can see that the skill level are not even close, this is why you should be training staffs, we will talk about how later.
Currently there are four attributes for staffs, Strength, Speed, Stamina, and Perception.
- Strength determines how many items your staff can carry, 1/8 would carry one, 3/8 would carry two, 5/8 would carry three, and 8/8 would carry four.
- Speed determines how fast your staff walks, this is especially important when you have a large station, but not too important if your station is small.
- Stamina determines how much time your staff need to "cooldown" their ability after performing a certain task before they move on to the next one. They would not move until their cooldown is complete, so you can micromanage them to the next destination as their cooldown bar progresses to save some time.
- Perception determines how attentive your staffs are to their environment, basically it is the radius of perception. For example, you have a full trash bin in the other end of your platform, a low perception staff with the litter tool at the other end of the station might not notice it, so you might need to micromanage them to empty the bin.
Currently staffs have five skills. People(Cyan), Refuse(Orange), Medical(Green), Security(Red), and Repair(Purple)
If you check the tools in the tool room, you might discover that they are in different colors, these colors corresponds to the five skills above, so you should prioritize your staff to empty the bin, wipe the floor, kill rats, and water the plants if your staff is good at refuse. The value of the staff would increase as they work on each task. As you can see Jack Mitchell above is 100% at People, because I make him use the megaphone all the time. Assigning the right staff to do the right thing is the key to efficiency and low staff desperation.
Now come to the core problem, which also make players very frustrated, as they constantly hear their staffs frown. Desperation usually appear early in-game to non-trained staffs. Staffs become desperate when they fail on tasks, and without enough rest. I personally recommend players to turn on autorest for all staffs, as no one knows their own need better than the AI does. Timed rest does not make sense in this regard. Micromanaging could help reduce staff desperation. For example, you have a staff mastering Refuse and Medical, but there are no issues at the moment that require their help, you could just assign them to the staff room and let them rest. That way they would not be desperate while they are doing literally nothing.
Early in the game, the only way to reduce staff desperation effectively is resting on uncomfy chair, that is why I generally do not recommend players to skip the night in early games, because the wages for staffs are more affordable then having a desperate staff. Later in the game, when you unlocked Staff TV or even Arcade game, these items kills desperation really quickly, and worth every penny for investment. Brewing station in staff room could be replacing water cooler for thirst need, and giving staffs a temporary speed boost.
Your staff would gain experience upon completing a task, though the amount of experience they gain varies upon different tasks. For example, you gain less experience for using the megaphone, because you can use a megaphone for many times, as it is a rather easy task. Doing task of the a specific color increases your staff's skill on that particular category. Such as megaphone for people, litter bin for refuse, etc.
Staff training is also another issue you have to think of as you progress through the zones. You might think it is a good idea to move on when you unlocked a new area, but not quite, especially when you try to move from Zone 2 to Zone 1. Staffs not hired in the previous zones are moved to the later zone, so say for example if you just finished Zone 3, even if you had some applicants in Zone 4 not hired yet, once you quit Zone 3, all of the applicants from Zone 3 to 5 would be moved to Zone 2, i.e. you can't go back to that zone and hire them with the cash you have got in that particular zone. Alpha 96 provides you with the ability to fire a staff permanently (without a warning), some said new applicant would appear, I never tried this before, nor do I recommend firing a staff. Putting them off-shift would be good enough, you don't gain anything from firing a staff, or maybe you hired someone very bad in skills by mistake, that you would like to lower the cost of hiring.
As you hire more staff, the cost of hiring a staff would increase, so you would need to plan ahead if you really need more staffs or not. Staff skills do accumulate and share between stations, so sometimes it is a good idea to train your newly hired staffs back in smaller stations, like in Zone 5 or 4 if you hired them in Zone 2. But bear in mind that, as your procurement progress, situations that never happened before (like sickness or commuter rage) could happen in Zone 5 if you return, though not as frequent. You are advised to upgrade your station's equipment and plan ahead.
Once your newly hired staff are trained to the similar level of your senior staffs, you are good to proceed.
This section would talk about some good habits that would make your life easier.
Machines like turnstiles, ticket machines have a condition value, they could be seen by hovering your mouse on them. With a staff equipped with tool kit, you can actually maintain these machine before they potentially break. This is good for both your station and your staff, as repairing a machine takes very long, causes noxious fumes and would reduce your station's reputation. Regular maintenance of machines would grant your staff experience, reduce the time to fix a machine, prevent the generation of noxious fumes, and keep your commuters happy.
Invest in lights and carriages early
As mentioned earlier, commuters do not like gloomy stations, lighting is a must have when you start off your station. Investing in more carriages and newer stocks would increase the throughput, and hence reducing overcrowd problem. When you have a big train, you would like to send off the very first train after passengers alighted as passengers would not board the train anytime soon. Once they are ready to board the train, another train would be arriving.
Invest in Level 2 trash bin early
Though Level 2 trash bin only increase the capacity by 5, but it is 50%, and doing so actually make your commuters left prone to littering (not sure if it is true of simply because the bin are less prone to full). Micromanage your staffs to clean the bin when they are 50% full, because full bins would generate noxious fumes, which is harmful to both your staffs and commuters.
Save bonds and money for new procurements
Some players might tend to use up the bonds whenever they have something unlocked, actually this is unnecessary, because not all of them are of immediate use. Sometimes this could kill you off (you might not lose the station, but could cause some serious troubles). It is a common mistake to spend all the bonds and suddenly a commuter with cardiac arrest pops up (oops). A good practice is to check the to-do list on the top right hand corner, if it ask you to build a rat prod, your station is probably gonna be infested with rats very frequently, that way you can prepare for it.
Do not over expand your station
Overexpanding is something that players prone to do but do not realize is harmful to their station, if your station is flooded with commuters, you are advised to close one of the entrances, or set them to exit only (yes you can actually do that), otherwise overcrowding and the spread of disease could make you lose reputation really quickly. Setup alarms to evacuate commuters if a pandemic outbreak is out of control. Do not attempt to hold the alarm and move them around after building one, because that does not work, and would trigger the alarm. Sell it instead and build a new one.
If you are an accomplisher, and would like to have all of your station reaching 5 stars, you might want to spend 5-10 minutes planning about where to put your platforms as you cannot overlap platforms and concourses in this game. Once you opened the station, there is no going back, unless you abort challenge.
DIY some pillars
Items like ads and vents could only be built on concourse walls, but walls are scarce. If you have a huge concourse, you can consider removing 1x1 floors in the middle of the concourse to build some pillars, that way you can hang four ads or put some vents on the pillar. Note that these pillars would block light sources.
Substitute some facilities/utilities for staff actions
Later in the game, rat poisons could be deployed to substitute rat prods. Maps could be deployed to substitute assist tablets. That way you can reduce the workload of your staffs and reduce the degree of micromanagement in the game. However, it takes more time for a rat to die with rat poison (and it also consumes it), and you might need to build a lot of map if you have a big station. It is also faster to attend to commuters' need if you chose to micromanage it or you have a staff with high perception.