Excel Level Designer

Software modification

One of the larger drawbacks in video game production is the amount of engineering time spent on unique level design tools that need to be built for non-engineer artists to use and then immediately test.

This project explores how excel sheets can be used for complex game level generation for both 2D and 3d games. The use of free versions of excel inside Google would be used to create paths, tower placement, and waves of creatures for use in a simple tower defense game. The objective of the project was to have a level editor with similar proficiency as a professional level design tool written in a fraction of the time and immediately accessible by anyone.

The needs of the waves of creatures were broken down into simple drop-down menus. The challenge of the pathing for the creatures proved more complex; the solution was a Visual basic code snippet that counted corners of the drawn path (Waypoints). The path itself was hardest to export, as Excel could not export colors-based cells sheets into ASCII format. The answer lay in creating an invisible matrix of numbers that correspond to the value of the colors used in the path. Upon closing the excel spreadsheet, all of these values were exported into a series of XML files that Unity could read in real-time.

This level editor was made available to any students to modify, making the design of level paths available to anyone, engaging artists and freeing up engineers to concentrate on core code rather than write a costly and time-intensive level design tool.