Friday, August 3, 2012

Make Your Own Dungeon in Excel

It's pretty easy to create a sharp-looking dungeon using Microsoft Excel. I'm using Excel 2010, but any prior version of Excel should work just as well.

First, you need a cool looking background. Search Google images for a large texture in the color you want. I went with a dark to light green texture for my dungeon backdrop. The image should be large enough to encompass the entire dungeon or it can be a seamless texture, too.

Once you have the background image saved, go into Excel and set your background. In Excel 2012, this is done from the Page Layout Menu. Next, you'll want to set your rows and columns to equal height and width, so you get perfect squares for your spaces. You can do this by selecting the entire spreadsheet, and then grab the edge of any column and drag it a bit. You should see a small pop-up window that indicates the column width (in inches and pixels). I chose 30 pixels as my column width. Do the same with the rows, except you are modifying the row height.

Once you have your perfect squares, you can turn the gridlines on or off. In Excel 2012, this is done from either the Page Layout or View menus. For dungeon creation, I like to have the gridlines on, and then remove them afterward at my whimsy.

Make Your Own Dungeon with Microsoft Excel
Excel Dungeon with Gridlines

Now that the template is set, you can start creating your dungeon. The easiest way that I've found is to use the cell borders as walls using the cell format function (by right-clicking on the cell you want to change). You can use the same function for shading the cells. I used the gradient feature to create darkness around the walls, and brightness toward the center of each room. For hallways, I used the gradient feature on each individual cell to imitate a graph-paper look.

Once you've created a room or two and some connecting corridors, it's pretty easy to copy and paste these cells to make your entire dungeon. You'll probably want to create some doors, too. This can be done by using the Shapes tool found on the Inset tab in Excel 2010. Simply draw a small rectangle, and right click on the image to set the properties. Make one vertical door, and one horizontal for mass copying and pasting. In the properties window, set the image to "Move with Cell". That way, when you copy a cell, the door image will be copied as well.

Create Your Own Dungeon Using Microsoft Excel
Excel Dungeon Without Gridlines

Of course, you can use the symbols library in Excel, or create your own images and import them, too. However if you want to bang out a cool creation quickly, it's possible using this method.

If you've tried this before, or give it a shot now, let me know what designs you've come up with.

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