Building Interactive fiction / Text adventures with Excel

In 2006 just a few years after completing a course that included some VBA programming for Excel, I hit on the idea of using Excel to create a Text Adventure / Interactive Fiction game builder. I spent spare time for a year on it. It worked but there was more than I wanted to do, but never got around to it. By 2015 I thought I would post it online to an old blog I had called Hack Shack Alpha.

So what is it? Well, I asked ChatGPT about it as I have been trying to test it with something that it either got info from me or just made up. Let’s hear it from ChatGPT.

The "Excel Text Adventure Builder" is a tool that allows users to create their own text-based adventure games using Microsoft Excel and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). With this tool, users can create game maps, characters, items, and dialogues, and link these elements to various events and actions within the game.

Ok, that’s not bad.

The Excel Text Adventure Builder provides an easy-to-use interface for creating your game, as well as a set of pre-built functions and commands that can be used to add interactivity, logic, and decision-making elements to the game. This can help users to focus on the creative aspects of game design, without having to spend time learning complex programming concepts.

Hmmm, that’s pushing it a bit. Not sure I would say there are prebuilt functions.

One of the benefits of using the Excel Text Adventure Builder is that it provides a flexible platform for creating a wide range of text-based adventure games. For example, users can create games with multiple paths and endings, as well as games with complex puzzles and challenges. Additionally, because the tool is built on Microsoft Excel, it is familiar and intuitive to use, making it accessible to users of all skill levels.

Again, that’s a bit of a stretch.

Overall, the Excel Text Adventure Builder is a useful tool for anyone who is interested in creating their own text-based adventure games, and who is looking for a flexible, easy-to-use platform for doing so. Whether you are a seasoned game designer or just starting out, the Excel Text Adventure Builder can help you bring your game ideas to life.

Definitely went too far there. It’s difficult to tell if it learned any of this from my old posts, got it from somewhere else, or just made the whole thing up. Perhaps Knoll’s law of media accuracy “everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true, except for the rare story of which you happen to have firsthand knowledge” also applies to ChatGPT.

So, a bit more info that doesn’t sound like marketing speak. The game creator creates a game by entering data into different sheets in the game spreadsheet; one for locations, another for objects, another for puzzles and a few others. When the run button is hit VBA code within the spreadsheet loads the content from the sheets into a fancy userform and the game can be played. I thought it was a cool idea, but some of the implementation was a bit rough.

When I started it writing it most computers had Excel and there wasn’t as much risk of getting some malicious code in a spreadsheet. I no longer have any expectation that anyone will use it, but perhaps it may give you ideas for something else you may want to create. You can read more about it here in my old blog. I’m posting to it here so it is included in my collection of projects here.

Oh, and don’t trust everything that ChatGPT says.

The info page on my old blog is here.
The spreadsheet with the built-in macros is now available from my Github repository.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: