Little do we realise that those programs are amazingly powerful and most often justify the large price tags that are attached to them. Case in point; Arena.Xlsm, an RPG created entirely in Microsoft Excel 2007.
Digitally Downloaded (DD): Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background with video games?
DD: How was Arena.Xlsm conceived? Boredom? Challenge? A (very) drunk bet?
DD: How does one create an RPG in Microsoft Excel? Not many people see a spreadsheets program as a viable game engine.
CW: All of the coding is done using macros. All video games at their core involve the player interacting with something and then getting a response based on calculations as a result. This includes simple games like Fruit Ninja or more complicated games like Eve Online. A macro in Excel performs the exact same function, the user calls the macro, the macro calculates and outputs a response.
DD: During the creation of Arena.Xlsm, were there any games that you took inspiration from?
CW: The Binding of Isaac by Edmund McMillen was probably the game that had the largest influence on Arena.Xlsm. A lot of the game design was inspired by the web series Extra Credits.
DD: What are your views on individuals who are making games using unconventional tools and methods? Do you support them? Do you see them as working too hard to achieve what could otherwise be easily done?
DD: Are there any plans to expand upon Arena.Xlsm or convert the game into a non-Excel format?
CW: Arena.Xlsm is still getting updates. I updated it to version 1.1 on March 29. That update included a new feature to the game “Collections” where the player could collect various Easter eggs. I am currently working on version 1.2 which will be adding new terrain types, new enemies, new arenas… pretty much more of everything.
Regarding converting the game to a non-Excel format, I would be very eager to do this if there is a game publisher/developer who wanted to work with me on it. You may have been able to guess from Arena.Xlsm’s graphics, I can’t draw very well and having the game be successful on other platforms would likely require art. Furthermore, working with a team would allow for a much faster turnaround time than the 5 months it took me to make the game from scratch.
DD: What games are you playing at the moment?