Wednesday, September 20, 2023

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One Excel spreadsheet was the backbone of God of War Ragnarok

God of War Ragnarok’s gameplay is not to be sniffed at. This venture into Norse Mythology can take players anywhere from 20 to 50 hours. It is a vast and difficult to plan.

Anyone would find it difficult to organize the story, fights and exploration in God of War Ragnarok. Eric Williams, Ragnarok director, explained how he and his team handled this huge task in an interview (opens in new tab).

All of this was solved by creating an Excel spreadsheet that would rule them all. Williams said that the spreadsheet showed every moment of the game, and how much time was spent on each.

Williams said that despite the size of Williams’ spreadsheet, it only predicted “10%” of the final product. It was difficult to rule in the God of War, even after countless pages of content.

Excel-lent planning

A master Excel spreadsheet this large may seem intimidating to some. This was not the case for Williams, who was appointed director of God of War Ragnarok.

Williams discovered that he was suffering from Aphantasia while making God of War Ragnarok. This is the inability to create a mental image of an object which isn’t right in front you. Williams described it as “imagine a green apple” and said that he couldn’t see it. I have trouble picturing anything.

Williams’ Excel spreadsheet is a great example of this. Williams stated that he had to compensate by having a lot of references. He said, “Images are essential for every situation.”


This spreadsheet had images for every item. You can find images for everything, from fight scenes to dialogues. The icing on top was the frightening amount of GIFs.

The spreadsheet contained approximately 6,000 GIFs at the end. Williams described, through images and GIFs, the exact type of roundhouse kick that he wanted to see in a fight scene. This was one of the most memorable moments. His team informed him that they knew the exact shape of a roundhouse kick, and he responded, “Yeah, but this one is not”.

Williams was even accused by some of the developers of taking “all the creative fun out” of making fight scenes. Both sides took time to get used to each other. Williams stated that they had to adjust to me as it was completely different from God of War 2018, where Cory [Barlog], director of God of War 2018,] is. He thought at first that it was difficult, but then he realized his passion for GIFs, Excel spreadsheets, and other such things wasn’t the norm.

Everyone was able to come together and work out their differences. The final product was something that we found truly memorable. Williams’ insatiable need for spreadsheets, GIFs, and charts may have been the best thing that God of War Ragnarok has ever seen. The game is filled with an amazing sense of identity.

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