Review: DMDJ

photo 1 I often use music in my roleplaying games to help set the tone. As one of my players said recently: “The worst in these horror games of yours is not what happens in the game, but that dreadful music!” And even if it doesn’t sound like it, he meant it in a good way.

The right music can definitely help to immerse your players into the game world. Adding some sound effects to the mix sounds like a cool idea. I remember that a friend of mine used sound snippets recorded from movies in some of his games. Back in the day he used his desktop computer that was connected to his hi-fi system.

DMDJ is a pretty cool iOS app that comes with a plethora of background sounds, music and special effects that you can play directly from your iOS device. As you can see on the first screenshot (which I made on my iPad) the interface is looking pretty clear and you can trust me when I tell you it’s very easy to use.

photo 2 Using the big buttons you choose among several environment types like Nature, Town, Dungeon. Usually each environment type gives you several options to chose from. With the Intensity level buttons you can change the intensity from Low to High. You can also switch from Day to Night.

What I like a lot that aside from shutting down the app you’ll never have any sudden changes in sound or music. The app uses cross-fading whenever you change the settings. The only thing I find a bit annoying is that a change from day to night and vice versa is accompanied by a jingling sound.

The app also allows you to play music. Alas you can’t play music from your library but you are limited to the music included. There are several genres to pick from and each genre contains quite a few tracks, but I still would have preferred to play my own music instead. Perhaps this feature can be added in an update.

The FX feature lets you play short sound snippets like a laugh, a monster’s growl or a magic effect while the environmental effects and the music are still playing.

There’s also a dice roller included. I have to admit that’s probably the feature I won’t use that often if at all. I prefer to throw real dice around. But you can set up custom rolls/dice as well and this could be quite handy. You could even set up your own random encounter tables for example.

photo 3 photo

All in all the functionality of Blueface Games’ app is pretty good. But alas there are some issues, too. The first problem I encountered was on my iPad (1st generation). Whenever I pressed the Music button the whole UI was messed up and that feature was completely unusable because of that. When I recently updated my iPhone 4S to iOS 5.1 I had the same bug on my iPhone 4S, too. Restarting the device didn’t help, but luckily a complete reinstall of the app did the trick. I also encountered a lot of random crashes on my iPad.

But these minor issues aside, I like DMDJ a lot. It’s easy to use, offers a lot of bang for the buck and might be a great app to add that additional oomph to your games.

DMDJ is an app for the iPhone and iPad by Blueface Games and is available from the App Store for $2.99.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

3 thoughts on “Review: DMDJ”

  1. DMDJ is indeed a great little tool! I have a lot of fun with it. Not so sure how useful it will really be at the table as the inability to play my own music is a real bummer. With the lack of true multitasking on IOS devices this is a serious concern. Hopefully they add it in. I understand they added the dice roller due to the same limitation, if you access another dice app the music stops. But as I roll physical too that is not a problem. I have been toying with other tools like softrope for my netbook but they all lack the ease of use DMDJ offers on the my Phone. The Day/Night versions and three different intensity levels are such a brilliant idea. And so many background sounds for this price is a steal really.

  2. Hi everyone, this is Antonis from Blueface Games!

    First of all, thank you for your review and your comments! Being D&D players ourselves, we want to hear what the community has to say about DMDJ, in order to constantly improve it. Therefore, any feedback we receive (reviews, e-mails etc.) is really important to us.

    Having said that, let me tell you that version 1.1 is (at last!) available on the AppStore. Apart from additional presets, tracks etc., we have solved the issue with the music button and some other minor glitches, as well as performed memory optimization.

    Concluding, we will keep on improving the app, based on the feedback we receive – we’re already working on version 1.2, and I can assure you that future versions will probably cover every detail mentioned in your review!

    Thank you once again, and let me know what you think once you upgrade your DMDJ’s!


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