Making the One App to Rule Them All

“Dized is such a great Idea! I wonder why no one has done it before?” This is one of the most common things we hear about our app and we used to think the same way. That’s until we actually started to create it.

You might’ve heard someone saying that software development is difficult and that schedules should be multiplied by pi. It sounds like a joke, because even if things took a bit longer than expected, surely 3.14159 times as long is more exaggeration than is needed for comedic effect. But, sometimes it turns out the “funny” part actually is that it’s an understatement.

Figuring It Out

In 2016, we figured out what Dized needs to be: an app that solves the rulebook issue with interactive rules and tutorials. We started the development and built the first prototypes of how we believed the interactive tutorials should work. We showed them to players and at the same time talked with many tabletop game publishers and other industry operators. During this we formed a plan of the service that would be most useful for everyone. We quickly gained a lot of interest and realized we were onto something!

Dized being tested at Gen Con 2018

We believed we had a good grasp of how the tutorials should work, so we started looking into what happens after players have learned a game with the tutorial. After all, tutorials are kind of meant to be used only once (well, we’ve come to realize that they do actually serve a purpose beyond the initial game). Normally, once you learn a game, you don’t need the tutorial anymore. However, even after learning a game, we know that there’s a lot that needs to happen to support playing a game over and over again. We wanted to figure out a method for that as well.

At the same time, we needed to figure out how all this can be built to be a viable business in order to keep developing the platform for years to come. This has been one of the big challenges, coming up with a model that works for everyone from players to publishers, distributors, retailers, board game cafes, schools, libraries and so on.

Making It Happen

With the funding, we added more people to work on development. It felt like we were getting very close to getting things published — but there was always something additional that needed to be either fixed or developed before we could make it available in a way that made sense. During the development, we realized that it was going slower than expected because we’re actually creating three new things pretty much from scratch.

Dized Developers in a Weekly Meeting

First, we are bringing user manuals for physical products into a digital space. We have designed a method by which user manuals (rulebooks) can be easily produced and made usable for a wide audience in a modern way, with cross-referenced information and built in FAQs that are easily accessible, searchable and updateable.

Working on Rules for Champions of Midgard

Second, we’re introducing interactive tutorials for physical products. This didn’t turn out to be an easy task either, as tutorials are already quite difficult to do for digital products such as video games (go ahead and ask video game developers about this). We’re aiming a lot higher, as with a physical product there are so many things that can go wrong in the learning process — and how would an app even know about it? We’ve received great feedback for our tutorials, and players have asked why this hasn’t been done before as it’s such an amazing and seemingly simple solution. We know why — simple solutions are sometimes very difficult to come up with.

Doing some bug hunting on the new version of the app

Third, it quickly became apparent that we cannot create all this content ourselves. In today’s market, an average of ten new games are published daily. Yes, that’s daily. We knew that the only way to make content available for all those games is to let others create it. That’s why we decided to create tools that allow publishers, freelancers and other third parties to create the content and publish it on Dized, similar to how the app stores work, or Steam for example. You probably guessed it already, but there are no off-the-shelf tools available for this, so yet again, it’s up for us to do the research, developing and testing, which includes a lot of rinse and repeat until it’s right.

Demostrating a feature in Blender

And this is why the development has been taking a long time. We have been figuring out how to do three major things in a way that they work seamlessly together. We’ve written over 150,000 lines of code for Dized and have spent over 50,000 work hours building the platform and the service. That’s about 30 years of work for one person! We’ve made errors and we’ve had to change plans now and then once we’ve realized something doesn’t work. All of this has been done in order to bring out a service that we believe will fundamentally change the tabletop game hobby for the better.

Past the Point of No Return

The Dized Team in June 2018

Dized is a massive undertaking and maybe this post gives some insights why no one has done this before and why it’s also taking us a while to get it right. Luckily, that’s where we thrive: figuring out the unexplored and new. We’ve spent the past few years of our lives to this project and truly believe we can make tabletop gaming better for everyone, from total newbies to the most hardcore players. We’ve been able to build a company that now employees over 10 people full time, a team of professionals all dedicated to make Dized the revolutionary service we all believe it can be.

We’re honored to be the team that has a chance to make this happen, and we’re determined to do so! This following movie quote says it quite well: “That’s all it takes really… pressure… and time… That, and a big g*****n poster.”

On behalf of the whole team, the Dized Co-Founders:
- Jouni and Tomi