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Play an RPG made in Excel

It's the kind of game that only a chartered accountant could build — an RPG created entirely using Microsoft Excel.


(Credit: Cary Walkin)

It's the kind of game that only a chartered accountant could build — an RPG created entirely using Microsoft Excel.

While we don't recommend that you play video games at work, if you wanted a way to do it so that it looks like legit work, you could do worse than Cary Walkin's Arena.

Walkin, a chartered accountant and MBA Candidate at the Schulich School of Business in Toronto, Canada, has created a fully fleshed role-playing game using nothing but Microsoft Excel. The rogue-like dungeon-crawler is massive. Four pre-programmed arenas are followed by procedurally generated dungeons that can lead to four different endings, so each play-through will run differently.

And what you find inside the arenas is amazing. There are over 2000 possible enemies; 15 unique items with 39 modifiers, leading to over 1000 possible item combinations with spells that let you enchant items yourself; eight boss encounters; 31 spells; and 36 achievements. As you play through the game, the story unfolds through a series of pop-up letters.

There are a few very key differences, but it reminds us of nothing so much as the 1985 ASCII rogue-like Cavequest. (If anyone knows how to find the secret door in the last level, that has been bothering me for many years.)

The game took Walkin five months to create between October 2012 and February 2013, in between working on his MBA. "I have worked as a chartered accountant for several years, and over that time, I have developed a fondness for spreadsheets," he said. "I also have a life-long passion for video games. While I have no formal video-game training, I have created this video game made entirely in Microsoft Excel. I hope you've enjoyed it."

Walkin's game runs on Excel 2007 and Excel 2010, and you'll need to enable Macros in order to play (instructions for how to do this are linked from the Arena web page). Excel 2007, we should note, is experiencing a few issues, but Walkin will be issuing a fix this weekend.

Pick it up from Walkin's website here; and for more information about the game, you can visit the Arena Wiki here.