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Proximity


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Rating: 4.6/5 (134 votes)
| Comments (21) | Views (284)

JayProximityWith thanks to Owl for reminding me about this classic Flash gem of a turn-based strategy game created by Brian Cable. When I first came across the game in 2004, I held off on posting it to the site and instead contacted Brian asking if I could help him update the graphics since they look a bit rough when compared to its sparkling gameplay. He agreed but I dropped the ball, and the project languished. Fast-forward 4 years and the game is still excellent and worth mentioning, and it even earned Brian 3rd place in a recent Microsoft game design competition.

Proximity is somewhat like a cross between Risk and Go. It is a surprisingly simple game to learn and it takes about 5 minutes to play. You can play against the computer, or against a friend at the same computer. No multiplayer version of the game yet exists, unfortunately.

Two identical sets of tiles (one red, one blue) are made up of random numbers from 1-20. Both sets are equal in size to the number of turns you have for the board. Each turn, a tile from your respective set is chosen at random and removed from those remaining. Your turn ends when you place the tile onto any free space of the game board. If the number on the tile is larger than the enemy tile(s) you place it adjacent to, the color of those tiles are turned into your color, and the total sum of all your tiles is updated accordingly. The (default) objective is to have the largest sum at the end of the game, though this can be changed to the most territories instead in Game Setup.

Quickstart gets you into a game quickly, with the computer set to "beginner". If you want a more significant challenge, enter setup and change the difficulty: beginner, skilled, expert, or human. You can even set both players to computer AI and sit back and watch as they play.

Proximity is a brilliant casual game design by Brian Cable, and if you haven't yet played this excellent game, you're in for a treat.

Play Proximity

21 Comments

Don't forget about Proximity HD which was showcased at GDC this year for XNA!

http://www.xbox.com/en-US/community/events/gdc2008/xna/proximityhd.htm

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So how do you play a game with *.ccgame file name?

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Man, I remember this game! Awesome.

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I stumbled upon this game a few weeks ago. Quite nice and addictive ("c'mon, one more level, I'm going to kick his butt this time!"), but I can't seem to win :( Damn computer is too smart for me.

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I don't think it's mentioned in the review that the number of same color tiles that are adjacent to the on you put down increases by one

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I like it! Another math game, in a way. I especially like that the troops already in place are strengthened by the addition of new troops. That makes it just a bit more satisfying for me--especially when it looks like I'm losing, but I've upped the count on several spaces to 19 or 20 and I pull off a win at the last moment.

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Do you ever see games reviewed here and wonder what you were thinking when you didn't suggest it, since you've been playing it for years...?

Anyway, good choice, I love this game! It has a lot of great and really easy customization for your game play. Of course now I have to try to stop playing so I can get to class, but I'll be back for more.

(Oh and as I'm posting here anyway, and I didn't know how else to ask this question... Is there any particular reason that the side bar with my favorites and your recommendations keeps moving below all the reviews? When the page loads it shows up in the correct spot, to the left of the reviews, for a few seconds and then moves down below the review. It started happening a week or two ago. Sorry if this is inappropriate to have this in the comment, feel free to delete it. Thanks)


[Edit: Are you using IE6 by chance? There is a known issue with the site where that will happen when I change things in the sidebar, and I have been adding some things of late. Trouble is, I no longer have an IE6 computer to test on, so I can't see when it happens. That browser has caused me more lost productivity than I care to even think about. Thanks for mentioning it, I'll look into it. In the meantime, please get a better browser! :) -Jay]

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Haha, thanks for remembering to post this. For the longest time I was wondering if it was ever going to be posted, especially after you posted Formation :P.

I actually recreated one of your mockups and had a "Proximity Classic" mostly made using your design that I still need to sit down and finish yet.

As for the multiplayer, I got distracted by Proximity HD and was going to make a multiplayer version, finally, through that for Xbox LIVE Arcade, but I've been distracted a bit by my new job and I haven't submitted the concept to Microsoft formally yet.

The PC needs a version with multiplayer also, and hopefully I'll figure out a way to do that with my limited funds at some point, hopefully in a way where I can make some money off of it.

Anyway, thanks for posting Proximity. I hope everyone enjoys playing it :P.

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A very good one. Exactly the kind of game where polished and shiny looks is not a requirement - I didn't miss it at all. I guess this game would be just as enjoyable in black and white on a Hercules screen :)

Thx, Jay, for showing us this one.

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Strategy tip for those finding it difficult:

You'll notice that as the game progresses, the screen fills up with tiles that get "locked in" when they become surrounded by other tiles. These are the ones that will determine your score.

The idea is to only "capture" a tile if in doing so you completely block access to that tile. That way, the opponent cannot recapture it. You can use low-scoring tiles defensively, to lock in your own tiles to protect them from the opponent, or to raise 18 and 19 tiles to 20. On the Quickstart game I just played, this strategy gave me a +200 lead at the end of the game.

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I have the XNA runtime installed, Direct X is up to date, and so is the .NET 2.0
Still says I don't have a viewer for this type of file.

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RichardMooney April 24, 2008 6:46 AM

It needs higher difficulties - using the right strategy, I just won first time against an expert opponent!

(Yeah boy!)

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The randomness just kills it for me. If you are unlucky you lose, as your opponent locks in all of your numbers and you can't do anything about it. Even something as simple as a hand of three tiles where you draw a new one to replace the one you played would be a tremendous improvement from a strategy standpoint. The way it stands now you just play the odds and pray. Good game, perhaps. Amazing game, probably not.

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The randomness hurts yes.

Have to say though, it's a nice game on a simple and solid concept.

Also the AI is very good. if you get bad draws, it will make you really feel it

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Fun for the first two or three games, but even the expert level is too easy. Maybe I'm a geek who plays too many math and strategy games, but I'm sure there are plenty of others out there who haven't lost a round yet. The only time it presents a real challenge is if you change the settings to decrease your own adjacent tiles. Would be great fun if it were harder.

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AH BLUE ALWAYS WINS!


[Edit: Then the strategy you're playing with is incorrect. -Jay]

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Like many have said, it's a great idea, but the randomness kills it for me.

Every time I play, either my opponent keeps getting a parade of 15+ tiles all in a row, in which case it's frustrating because I literally can't win, or else I get a dozen 15+ tiles in a row instead, in which case it's no fun because it's too easy. Strategy barely makes any difference at all, it's ruled completely by luck.

Here's a suggestion that would make it better: How about a game board consisting of 40 spaces, and each player has 20 tiles, one of each number? On your turn you can place any one of these tiles anywhere on the board. I think that would make for more strategy and less luck.

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Kitty_tc July 29, 2008 12:17 PM

I agree with the above that there is a little bit of weightedness towards luck over strategy... both the "hands" idea and the "full slate" one seem like they'd be good variations, even if only as options.

What I'd like to see, which would really make the game pop, would be if when you capture or strengthen a tile, it's recalculated for win/loss against adjacent tiles. This would create the potential for chain reactions and larger flips that would be more exciting than large swaths of locked board.

Special spaces with different effects would be interesting as well, and special pieces too. For example:

* + and - spaces that affect the value of the piece you place there, adding it's value (positive or negative) to the score of what's placed on it.

* "fortress" spaces that, once a piece is placed there, are unconquerable. The number on that piece greys out and it cannot be taken.

* half and double score spaces that effect the value of themselves and the adjacent spaces in your army total, allowing them to affect your score.

* similarly, bonus and penalty spaces that add their value (positive or negative) to your army score. Both these and the above would be strategic in that they'd encourage the player to try to claim the good ones and force the enemy into taking the bad ones.

* a "bomb" piece that, when placed, "explodes" for "damage" to all adjacent pieces, reducing their value and causing them to be recalculated for win/loss. A piece dropped below 1 in value is removed from the board.

* a "zapper" or "eraser" piece that, when placed atop another piece of either side, removes that piece from the board.

* a random piece marked "?" whose value is unknown to the player until it is placed. It might be a 1, it might be a 20. Take your chances and hope it turns out well.

* a "flipper" piece that, when placed atop another piece, flips it's color to the opposite side.

These changes would make the game more dynamic and fun, and certainly less predictable. Maybe for a sequel?

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Whoah... This is like reversi... on a hexagon board... with numbers. I don't know what to say about this... except it's addicting!
I agree with the other people that the 'random number' factor is frustrating- especially when blue keeps getting 18s, 19s, and 20s and I keep getting 3s, 4s, and 1s. :,(
One more time, computer. I can beat you! ... Eventually...

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