Certified ginger holding down the fort in Cincinnati, Ohio. The banker day job pays the bills, but the nerdy night job keeps the blood pumping. Lover of cats, baseball, anything Blizzard spits out and yellow question marks.
There’s a palpable excitement in buying a new game and the last thing anyone wants to do is spend a half hour reading the rules before actually getting to dive into their new toy. With Dized, rulebooks will become a thing of the past, as we take another step into the digital age of tabletop gaming. We sat down with the CEO of Playmore Games, Jouni Jusilla, to discuss his awesome new app.
Fresh Mana: So Dized is an app that is coming out here soon. Is it out? Because I know it’s coming out in August and I know the kick-start is soon.
Jouni Jusilla: Well, it’s not out yet. It’ll be on Indiegogo on August 28th. We have a demo that’s about to be ready for launch, right now we’re just testing it on different devices to know it works with the variety of devices. We don’t want to put it out there before we actually know that it is working on a majority of those devices. It will be out for IOS and Android though, and our goal is to push it out before or during the [Indiegogo] campaign, which starts in just 10 days.
FM: That’s coming up soon, are you kind of nervous?
JJ: I’m excited! We started the company three and a half years ago and it’s all been building towards this. It’s so important for us; we’ve gone around to all the big expos for years, talked to big industry operators, we’ve talked with players and we had the prototype up here last year at Gen Con. We’ve been to Games Expo and SPIEL where players sat down, tried it out and loved it. Right now what we need to know is if the request for [the app] is big enough, and that’s why we’re doing this campaign. We need to show to everybody that this is something that really needs to happen. The campaign will also help us get this done much quicker; rather than building it for 10 years and maybe getting something out, we want this to out next year. This needs to happen now – we all need it… I need it! (chuckles)
FM: To start with bare bones, what exactly IS Dized and what is going to be supplied?
JJ: Dized is a smart device application that teaches you how to play board games. It’s the friend at the table that knows the game inside and out, and teaches you in a way that you can start playing immediately and learn the game as you play. And the big difference is that you don’t have to study the whole game before you start. Actually, you don’t have to study at all! You sit down and open up the box and Dized takes your hand right from the start. It shows you how to unbox the game, how to prepare the board, and then you start playing immediately.
Alright now it’s your first turn and let’s say we’re playing Carcassonne, you take one tile from the stack and show it to everybody, Dized will ask what tile you got. You tell it and Dized will say “Okay, cool, now you can place this tile on the table and these are all the different ways you place or play it.”
Jouni then took the time out of our interview to show me a demo of how the app works. As mentioned before, the game that was loaded up into the app was Carcassonne, something I haven’t played before and had no idea how the game works. Not only does Dized run smoothly, the 3D animations are very well done, it’s very visually pleasing and easy to understand. The voice that explains the rules isn’t overbearing or hard to understand and can be easily muted if that’s how a player decides to proceed. It didn’t rush through the explanation of the card that was in play, and even had arrows point to which directions were in fair play, and which directions wouldn’t work.
JJ: It’s teaching you the rules gradually and it’s a smart tutorial, so it customizes to the player experience. every time you play it’s going to go a little differently, and our app takes that into account and adjusts. You will always learn all the rules, but maybe in a different order than the last time you played, or different from how others learned it.
FM: How many games are currently supported on Dized and how many more do you plan on adding?
JJ: Obviously our ambitious goal is to have every single game on the app, and this will happen one day. Right now we have started with some big games because we also want to show the community that we can get the big publisher support. And that’s been one of the big questions we get, where a player is like “Yeah it’s cool, but can you get the big games on it?” The first games that we have announced for Dized so far are Carcassonne, Bang, 7 Wonders, Blood Rage, Scythe along with this year’s Spiel winners Kingdomino and Ice Cool. I can’t tell you more, because our marketing manager would kill me (chuckles), but we are doing more announcements before and during the campaign. There’s such a long line of games that we could do already, so right now we just have to hand-pick the selection that we are building. The beauty of our project is that we are developing a tool set that will allow publishers and developers to add their games in on their own. This will be a web-based set of tools. It’s just like an average homepage nowadays: you don’t program it, you just use a service and it’s very easy to build your own website. This is what we’re building for the tutorials as well. Publishers can have somebody in house, or they can hire a freelancer and we can have thousands of people developing Dized tutorials simultaneously. This will solve the problem of how we acquire games; so instead of having 1 or 2 games a month, we can actually have 10, or even 100 games done every month.
FM: That sounds really cool. When it comes to the app, will it be free? Will there be a one-time fee or a monthly fee?
JJ: The app is free to download and the core function, which is the tutorials, is free to use. That includes rule lookup tools, too. So the tutorials are the part that teaches you the game and the rule lookup tools are for when you already know the game but then you have random questions come up you’re not sure about. You ask the app something like “Hey, can I have two barrels in the game?” and the app says no, okay… cool, and then you can move on after that. All the rules are there, but if for some reason they’re not, the publisher gets notification and they can go and actually answer the questions themselves.
FM: That is good with the publisher availability, that you can interact with them in a way. With playing games you’re constantly finding new ways to break the game. There’s always something weird that happens.
JJ: Yep, and that’s another cool thing as well… this is much easier to update [than a rulebook]. For example, a publisher puts out a game and then a player realizes that they can break a mechanic. Board games will have 2nd edition when it comes to rules, and that’s easy to update with Dized. We know there are a lot of players that just read the rulebook and interpret the game how they want, so being able to update the same rule for everyone is helpful.
But back to your question earlier, sorry I have a tendency to get a bit off track (chuckles). The app is free to use and the core function is free to use but there is a subscription model, which will unleash the full potential of the app. This means you’d get access to digital expansions of games, which can start from simple mechanics like dice rolling or score trackers, to more complex things like AI players for certain games. There’s also soundtracks and demos… anything that will help bring the game to life. We still want the focus to be on the physical game on the table, we’re not trying to make video games. We want to create something you can use, a digital helper so you can learn and enhance the game better than before.
FM: This is a really cool concept, so I’m hoping your Indiegogo is a hit. When someone buys a game, they don’t want to read the rules, they just want to go. Reading 5 pages of rules sucks.
JJ: Yeah, and that’s a short rulebook!
FM: Yeah, you’re right, this will make it a lot easier (chuckles). Thank you for your time.
JJ: For sure, thank you for coming!
We just want to thank Jouni Jusilla and all the awesome people at the Dized booth during Gen Con for being so wonderful. Everyone was pumped about the app, and the “Throne of Games” they had available to enter and win for was divine. Jouni also had the most delicious Finnish chocolates with him that he gave to my friend and I when we visited the booth, so clearly you can tell the man has good taste. The Indiegogo starts August 28th, so be sure to head over there and show these digital geniuses some love. Be sure to check out the video below for more information: