Publisher: Undermountain GamesI was recently comped a copy of DTiles for review. According to the publisher’s website, DTiles is “the easiest, fastest tile-mapping software on the market. Build your own library of reusable tiles and print them out at 1″ square scale. Design complete sets of dungeon tiles or a whole dungeon at once – all in full 300 dpi!”
Can DTiles live up to its press’ big claims?
The program’s layout is extremely straight forward. You are greeted with a blank slate upon opening the program, with a simple task bar along the top and four options in a left hand window. Exploring the three taskbar menus, File does everything you expect it to (New, Open, Save, Print, Quit), Map allows you to toggle a grid, and Help gives product information. There is nothing intimidating here. It isn’t like Photoshop, a program with so much subtly and so many options that unless an amateur gets experimental they will never improve. DTiles is easy to master, even easier to understand, and avoids confusing bells and whistles.
The fun of the program is using the four left hand options: Floors; Walls; Stairs; and Doors. The Floor pictorial submenu has three stone floor designs. Walls has a thick and thin stone wall. Stairs actually has six different staircases, some straight, some spiralling. Finally, Doors has a nice variety: a heavy wooden door, a wooden double door, cell bars, and a cell door.
The interface is easy and fun. Clicking on any of the options highlights them. Highlighted options can be dragged and dropped. Holding down the mouse button drops tiles everywhere you drag, creating rooms in seconds. A much appreciated detail is that there are slight variations to floor tiles of the same type so no two adjacent tiles match. Walls and floors can even be highlighted together, making room creation even faster.
I made a path leading to a stone building with a staircase going down and printed it out (left). It produced a nice, crisp image. Even in greyscale with reduced ink, it looks great as a map tile. The tiles are perfect for 28mm scale figures like D&D Miniatures and Reaper Minis.
The website did not lie. This is the easiest and fastest dungeon building software I have ever used. A DM could create and print a dungeon room while the players are debating whether to pick the lock or knock the door down.
Although I enjoyed DTiles, it has a major flaw. Not in the programming, I did not come across any bugs. The problem is the depth of the library. Yes it can create floors, walls, doors, and stairs. So can a wet erase marker on a battle map (right). Walls, doors, and stairs are as easy as a few quick lines, and floors don’t even have to be drawn. Where are the dungeon furnishings that are tedious to draw? No tables, chairs, bedroom sets, statues, piles of gold, alters. The three floor tiles are all stone. Fine for a classic dungeon but I was hoping to use DTiles to create a reusable map of the tavern my PCs like to frequent. Not unless I want a stone box with standing room only. I went to Undermountain Games’ website to look at screenshots to make sure I wasn’t given a stripped down demo to review. From the looks of it, I have the basic set. The upcoming Dungeons Vol. II advertises “3 new floor and wall designs, piles of gold and treasure, ancient sarcophagi, and much more. In addition, Dungeons Vol. II extends the Essential Toolset and enables you to build your walls at 45 degree angles!” while Dungeons Vol. III “also extends the Essential Toolset enabling you to build circular walls and chambers! And just like Vol. II, Dungeons Vol. III also comes with new floor and wall styles and many other library items as well.”
It is hard for me to give DTiles a straight recommendation. The expansions sound like they are on the right track, however, the DTiles program currently costs $14.95 (SRP $19/95) while each expansion is listed at $9.95. That is about $50 for what sounds like what I want from the basic program. Even with both expansions, could I make my tavern? Or a vampire’s crypt? What about the missing Princess’ trashed bedroom? The last one may seem specific but if it’s a setting I need for an adventure, I would want my dungeon creation program to support it.
I would be a lot happier with DTiles if it allowed me to upload fan-generated tiles. The RPG hobby is very communal and that would show me that this is a program for gamers by gamers. Maybe Undermountain Games would sell a few less expansions but I could see them selling a lot more DTiles programs and building a loyal fanbase.
My final word is that the program works amazingly well, but the library currently does not meet my needs. Sadly, at the moment DTiles does not get my recommendation but I really hope some day soon it does.
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