Many years ago I decided that I will never work with Excel because the program is awful and is associated with incredibly boring things like accounting and scheduling. However, all that changed once I got into game design. Using spreadsheet software is an integral part to game design so it’s inevitable that one will have to use Excel, Google Docs, Numbers, or Open Office.
For people like me who harbour a disdain for spreadsheets some guides on how they are used in game design have been made. Over at Ruby Cow Games there is a two part series on how they have used spreadsheets for game balancing and probability in one of their card games. Part one explores the initial cards and their distribution. Part two explores how they used formulas to visualize data for balance issues and model potential gameplay.
You can see their spreadsheets online to see how they used it and get inspiration for how you can use spreadsheets too.
Gamasutra has an article on how spreadsheets are used in game design which provides a good introduction to core features. So if you’re hesitant to get into the world of spreadsheets like I was, don’t fret: it’s not all boring numbers.
You can make playable games in Excel
Arena.Xlsm is a RPG made entirely in an Excel file. You will need to enable macros to play the game. The best part of the game is that it is made by an accountant, so they aren’t boring 😉 The image above is the game in action.
Games in Microsoft Excel aren’t new, which means that there are a lot of games you can play at work right now. Over at Techno JOurney they have a list of games in Excel you can download.
Microsoft has even included a flight simulator in Excel!