As I have dabbled more and more into table top game design, I have grown more and more fond of using custom dice. Maybe it’s my affinity for iconography or my aversion to math, but there is something great about rolling dice and knowing immediately how the results effect the game.

While I love to use custom dice in my games, they have been surprisingly difficult to prototype. I have tried a number of different solutions with varying degrees of success. There is the old stand-by method of simply assigning the results to different values on a standard dice, but for me it always ends up being a big headache and even more so when you play test with other people. There is the print and paste method where you created a set of custom dice dice on the computer and print and paste the pips to dice, but I find this method incredibly time consuming, and difficult to update if changes are required. I’ve also been experimenting with 3D printing as a method to create my dice, but even more then the last method this approach doesn’t make rapid prototyping any easier.

After much trial an error, I finally stumbled onto a solution: Photo Dice, a custom dice app for game prototyping.

Custom dice prototypes for table top game
Print and Paste Dice Prototypes

Photo Dice the Custom Dice App

Photo Dice is a free app for iPhone and iPad devices. It was made by the creator Mach Dice, an app that lets you toss 2 – 100 sided dice on your phone or tablet. Photo Dice lets you put a unique image of every side of a 6 sided dice. From the images in the app store, it looks like one of the intended uses is to put pictures of people on the dice, but It is way more useful then that. Here  are some of the features and how I am using it as I am prototyping.

Add Custom Dice Faces

It’s not hard to get custom faces on your dice in the app. It is as simple as creating an image (I prefer to use Adobe Illustrator but even clipart from Word would do), saving and sending the image to your phone, and uploading the image to the app. The app includes a nice feature that lets you scale and crop images to fit onto the square face. The first couple dice I made I just took picture of my computer screen of the dice I had created. It was crude, but it worked and I was up and going in a flash.

Blue Custom dice for prototyping    Red Custom dice for prototyping

Add and Use Multiple Dice

What I was not expecting to find in this app was the ability to add multiple dice. The game I am working on has 6 different dice, so when I found out I could add add and test them all at the same time, I was sold. The dice are well organized in a list view when you want to go and edit them clearly marked by a given name. When you go to use them, they are all neatly arranged at the top of the screen and ready to be used.

Play Test with the Prototypes

Not only is it easy to add more then one custom dice, it is easy to switch between the dice. In my example, I can roll the attach dice and quickly switch to the defense dice with only a few easy steps. This has made play testing incredibly smooth. The app is downloaded on both my iPad and iPhone, so the dice are ready and accessible wherever I choose to test the game.

Custom Dice app Screen Shot    Custom Dice app Screen Shot

Email Dice to other people and devices

I don’t think I would be writing this review if it weren’t for this feature. The app allows users to email their dice to other people who have the app. Because the app is free, the only barrier is whether or not they have an iPhone or iPad. I found this feature to be incredibly useful as I was creating the dice on my iPad and sent them all to my iPhone. Sure it probably would have only taken me 10 or 15 minutes to recreate them on another device, but emailing them was a snap.

Other Great Features

A few other great features are the ability to change the background, lock dice in place while you roll the rest, roll practically an unlimited amount of dice, and roll the dice by shaking to phone or by hitting a button. All of these features are free with ads, but you can purchase the app without ads for $.99 (That’s not much and you help support a great app developer).

Download the App

I can’t rave any more about this app, so if you made it this far, go and download the app and start creating your own custom dice.

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