Excel to Help In Balancing

I tweeted about using excel in balancing game. What I meant with this, is that excel can be a great tool for tracking how things work in the game. Even at simplest, it’s possible to write down stats in the excel (attack, defense, hitpoints or whatever) for different enemies in the game and then think/test/calculate if they are/feel balanced.

Spreadsheet is a starting point. By putting stats visible in a chart, it’s so much easier to see how good different things are.

A simple example from what I did to start my game balancing:

  • First I wrote down numbers (in a simple text file) mentioning what elements there are in my game (things like “infection”, “character”, “weapon” and so on). I wrote how there can be different challenges with difficulties ranging from 1-3 and then there’s weapons valued 0 to 3. Now I had a list of things.
  • Then I drew an interaction picture (sort of like a mindmap, with arrows between elements that interact/change each other). From this picture, it’s easy for me to see for example that “characters use weapons, weapons are used to overcome challenges, challenges reduce resources A B and C” and so on. Since there’s different dependencies between objects, it was a good to see them in paper. This high-level map helps in seeing things.
  • Third thing I needed was excel (or open office alternative). I list my game objects in my excel, put numbers there and this gives me numeric data to work with. I can use my high-level picture to see how things affect each other – and from this I can start putting some numbers in the excel. Excel can give good additional view on how powerful some objects might be (and you can even create formulas that calculate relative powers of objects, you can see if some weapons for example are unbalanced).

Of course this is merely the start. After I have numbers in excel, I of course need get these numbers in my game – and test the game. And from there I can do changes, balance things with the help of spreadsheet.

I think I’ve blogged at some point (several years ago) how cool idea it was to use .csv file format, and import that data directly to the game – really recommend this. Also, I’m sure there’s tons of articles about game balancing – go fetch ’em.

And of course share your own tips here.

Juuso Hietalahti

One Comment

  1. Yep I used csv for some of the Fairway and Unwell Mel data, not the level layouts, but the overall game progression of when certain powerups were released and how much money you got for completing levels etc. Then you can use Excel to estimate how much money the players has at key points in the game and offer them powerups they can afford and also some just out of reach to tempt them.

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