Behind the Scenes: Coping in a Crisis

The “Behind The Scenes” series is a chance for us to give you a glimpse into the inner workings of HabitRPG, Inc., the company that makes Habitica. Every so often, we’ll treat you to some silly staff shenanigans or show you the work that goes into your favorite features. Right now, though, it’s a rough time for everyone in the world, and we’re aware of how much it is affecting all our users in different ways. We thought we’d share with you some stories about how we’re protecting our mental health and keeping ourselves truckin’ along! We hope this might give you some ideas on how you can cope with a crisis situation.

Staff avatar of redphoenixFirst off, redphoenix kept her contribution short ‘n’ sweet: she’s making time for meditation, and “making sure I actually take proper breaks instead of attempting to work through them”. Just because you might be working from home now doesn’t mean you should let work encroach on your free time! Take your breaks!

Piyo‘s words of wisdom included a reminder that when times are tough, we shouldn’t be too tough on ourselves: “I’ve learned to be more lenient with myself when it comes to goals. It’s not realistic to have the same level of focus or productivity right now.” She’s also making sure to keep up with her friends via Discord, and taking breaks in the world of Animal Crossing collecting fish (gotta catch ’em all! Wait, wrong game).

Beffymaroo catching an emperor butterfly

As you can see, beffymaroo concurs with that last bit! She’s also gotten into playing Animal Crossing, and no surprises here… she loves collecting the butterflies! (Don’t forget to check out her post on butterfly gardening!)

Like many of us, she’s also reaching out to friends in new ways:

Beffymaroo's staff avatarI’m trying to make a point to reach out to people more, which historically I am not great at doing not-in-person! I’m trying to find fun ways to do things with friends, like the Netflix Party extension for Chrome or watching my local drag performers do their streaming show while using Google Hangouts with friends for voice commentary!

There’s a constant stream of news at the moment, and most of it isn’t good… and what’s more, it isn’t surprising either. You don’t have to constantly beam the crisis into your eyeballs! beffymaroo and shanaqui are both avoiding the news: beffymaroo is only reading the Washington Post once a day and that’s it, while shanaqui has cut down their news consumption by unfollowing the BBC and CNN accounts on Twitter, and using the filter feature to just mute tweets from everyone containing certain keywords.

shanaqui is also throwing themself into new challenges:

I’m using courses from FutureLearn, Coursera and EdX to keep me busy and spend the time learning: right now I’ve just started an introductory course to archaeology just for fun, while also practising my microscopy skills from the safety of my home in a course on histology! Not to mention tackling my TBR Mountain…

It’s not all about distraction and keeping busy, though. It’s a rough time for those with mental health issues, and both shanaqui and Cantras wanted to mention managing their anxiety with medication. Don’t forget you may be able to reach out to your doctor and explain that things are rough! Cantras also has some tips on this:

Cantras' tension-tamer teaI’m lucky that I already work from home, but I work in news media which is not great for anxiety. I have a tea called “Tension Tamer” that I originally bought for the cool box design but having some halfway through my shift really helps. I’ve been working out more and more consistently, and if that combined with the start of spring doesn’t help as much as I need it to, I’ll get my anxiety med dosage bumped up a smidge.

She’s also got plenty to do keeping Alvin entertained, a problem all the mods and staff with pets can sympathize with!

Cantras' dog Alvin needs a lot of walks

Apollo has been finding the use of voice chat to keep in touch the most helpful:

I’ve been keeping in touch with a lot of my friends via Discord. We’re not all required to be on conference calls all day, so sometimes we’ll just hang out in a voice channel during the work day. Additionally, I’ve been able to do some mixing and engineering with band mates, play trivia with neighborhood friends, and received coaching lessons from a chef friend while trying out one of his recipes. Speaking with people (not typing) has been big in keeping things moving for me.

Hanging out in a voice channel as Apollo suggests can really help you focus: you’re not alone, and you know everyone else is working too. Habitica even has a guild for enabling that, called The Quiet Room. shanaqui and deilann both hang out there sometimes!

Dewines is using technology to keep up too, and has an unforeseen problem…

I suppose I’m coping by trying to transfer my normal face-to-face meetings to online. This is not working perfectly because most of the participants are not very tech savvy, but it’s definitely better than nothing. We held our second Welsh chat session via a hangout. We normally meet in a local cafe every Wednesday morning, but we’re trying to keep in touch and practise our Welsh via hangouts. I now have ceiling envy. I live in a little 1980s house with artex ceilings. Three of the group members have lovely wooden beams in their old houses. Dewines' mod avatarThis morning’s hangout also featured a dog and two pheasants, courtesy of one member who joined us on her phone whilst out walking on a hill near her home.

Down with artex ceilings!

That’s a really quick roundup of things we’re all doing to keep ourselves going. We’d love to hear what you’re doing as well!

That said, we want to remind you all that it’s also okay not to be okay. Things are really strange and unsettling, and there’s no shame in needing some time in the Inn. As Piyo put it:

Accept that it’s okay if you’re not coping very well yet. It’s hard to process such profound grief and uncertainty. Reach out to your friends and loved ones. Focus on what’s within your control to change in the present.

Don’t forget, we’ve also pulled together a post with Helpful Resources for Tough Times, and you can reach out to other Habiticans in your favourite guilds for support. We really are all in this together!

Guild Spotlights: Our Favourites

With all the Guilds on Habitica, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. This year, our Guild Spotlights are going to highlight the favourite Guilds of Habitica’s staff, moderators and some high-level contributors! If you want to curate your Habitica experience and join active, positive Guilds, this is a great way to pick up some new ideas for Guilds to join.

QF_guildspotlight

This month’s contributor is QuartzFox, a Socialite, Artisan and Linguist who you might have met in the Tavern, Pixels in Progress, or many other guilds around Habitica! Here are her favourite guilds, in her own words:

There’s A Silly Place to escape to when you need to just let your hair down — or put it up. We share all kinds of silliness, from the “I can’t believe this is a thing” moments to the sublimely ridiculous things we do to have and share fun. Which reminds me, I should email my tree again and see how it’s doing…

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s Just for Today, Don’t Do Anything Stupid — which is the opposite of frivolous. The Guild is there as an informal space to discuss, as openly as one chooses, those moments when faced with The Stupid Thing — whatever behavior it is that you can choose not to do, but might do anyway, because it provides an immediate sense of gratification — even though it’s generally something harmful. The Guild goes through quiet periods, but is always there for anyone who needs to vent, or find support, or commiserate about the temptations we find for ourselves.

Love Pursuers very reliably has a Question of the Week and isn’t so much about trying to find a relationship as it is about looking to understand and share our thoughts about love and relationships with each other. It’s a wonderfully supportive group and it’s wonderful to see all the different perspectives!

Last but certainly not least, the Restricted Diet Guild, while currently still small, is open to anyone who has allergies or sensitivities, or other restrictions on their diet (by choice or not)! Many of us on Habitica want to work on our health behind the keyboard; here’s a Guild where we can share stories and recipes, commiserate and congratulate. There’s so much we can learn from one another!

Check out these Guilds for yourself using the links above, if any of them are calling to you! However, don’t worry if none of these piques your interest this month… there are lots of other Guild Spotlights on this blog that you can check out, and there’s a new spotlight every month!

Use Case Spotlight: Managing Conflicting Goals and Needs

Illustration by aspiring_advocate

Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain a balance in life: one thing can eclipse everything else and leave you with no time left for self-care. For example, it can be difficult to keep your work or educational goals from taking up all your time, leaving you with no time to relax — or sometimes it’s the opposite, and you’re too frazzled to manage much by way of productivity. So for this month we asked the community to talk about how they use Habitica to help manage their conflicting needs, in case it sparks ideas for you!

MultipleViewpoint has things down, and this is how they manage:

Productivity and self care aren’t in conflict for me on Habitica. I have dailies set up for both types of activities. I’m retired from one career and starting a second home-based career. Setting up self-care routines that work for me took me about half a year (while still doing other things, of course). Now that my morning, exercise, diet, sleep routines are smooth check-offs in Habitica, I’m concentrating on getting my projects on track. Habitica is good for checking off daily work tasks and for listing to do’s on projects, but I’ve found I need a secondary pomodoro app to actually stick to a work schedule. I’ve been using Productivity Timer for a week now and find that its schedule, alarm and “Get back to work!” reminders work for me. And I still have time for my self-care dailies.

etherfly talks about adapting Habitica to suit their needs, so they can play on easy mode if life is making everything harder. All their other advice is great too!

There are three ways, in which conflicting goals balance out for me:

  1. I reward myself for planning ahead. I have habits and dailies set up in a way that I have certain freedom in when I do this and this task of this week. I can do chores ahead of scheduled time, I can make little progress on a creative or work task on one day, but compensate for it on the other. Results get tallied by the end of the week or sometimes a longer period. I try not to overload myself with tasks, and if I find myself somehow cornered by unfinished tasks and dailies? Well, my fault, gotta take damage.
  2. I have a reward on a two-week cooldown that allows me to “take day off”, bypass some of the tasks and enjoy extra leeway with entertainment. Helps, when you feel swamped and just want to catch your breath. The cooldown makes it so I don’t use right away when it’s available, but save it for when I really need it.
  3. I use a special mechanic that uses my real-life health estimation. If at some point I feel I am low on energy and need to recover mentally and physically, some of my dailies become easier, so I don’t exhaust myself further.

OptimumKitten has some great advice on using the colours of their Habits to gauge how they’re doing:

The way I try to balance myself using Habitica, is by having six habits all named after general stats you would find in video games. So I have strength, charisma, constitution, dexterity, wisdom and intelligence. I have a list of tasks created for each one which I used to keep in the notes of the habits, but I know it by heart now so I don’t bother taking up the space anymore. […]

How this helps is by keeping me aware of what stats I’m training. If wisdom is bright blue with a high streak for the week, I’m working hard. But if constitution is amber with no streak, that hard work is going to burn me out pretty quickly. I use that to guide me to get more sleep, go for walks, relax and eat better to raise my constitution stat.

As always, you can check out the Use Case Spotlights Guild to add your thoughts! If you contribute to discussion about next month’s theme, we might include your advice in the next Use Case Spotlight, so keep an eye out!

Helpful Resources for Tough Times

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Illustration by Aspiring Advocate

Hello Habiticans! We’re sure we don’t need to tell you we’re experiencing a unique and stressful time during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you’re all taking care of yourselves as best you’re able, as well as being responsible about doing your part to slow the pace of the outbreak and protect those who may be more vulnerable to serious illness.

We hope to bring you content in the coming days and weeks with helpful information to help you keep up self-care and wellness, necessary tasks, and find activities to help you weather isolation or quarantine. For now, we’ve compiled a list here of some past blog posts that you may find helpful:

Use Case Spotlights: These posts feature tips and tricks from fellow Habitica users related to these tasks and goals.

Mental Health and Wellness

Health and Fitness

Sleep and Rest

Reviewing and Evaluating Your Tasks

Food and Cooking

Guild Spotlights: These posts feature collections of Habitica Guilds dedicated to particular topics and types of goals.

Guilds for Mental Health and Wellness

Guilds for Self-Care

Guilds for Taking a Break

Guilds for Positivity

Guilds for Nutrition and Cooking

Other Features:

Routines: This featured Wiki article has information to help you add structure to your tasks.

Establishing a Meditation Habit in 60 Seconds Per Day (or Less!): A special Behind the Scenes post by Habitica’s Redphoenix about creating a mindfulness routine.

Take care 💜 We love you!

Cosplay

Examples of cosplays from Habiticans
Cosplays by Branderwall, UncommonCriminal, Viccthor and Patrick. Do you recognise the characters?

It’s Wiki Wednesday! Once a month we highlight a helpful post from the Wiki with tips about productivity, wellness, and optimizing your use of Habitica!

Are you a cosplayer? If you don’t know what cosplay is, it’s when people dress up as their favourite characters, often done at genre conventions. Thanks to all the different gear available on Habitica, you can indulge without having to do any sewing! This month’s highlighted page explains how you can put everything together, and also highlights some past cosplays done by Habiticans.

In Habitica, [cosplay] can be done using costumes, avatar customizations, pets, and mounts. Note, however, that none of the armor sets, weapons, or pets are based directly on any of the characters; They can be assembled to look like them. This page demonstrates some examples, which are entirely based on fan designs. Add your own or join us in the Costume Carnival guild, where the idea of cosplay in Habitica became popular.

Make sure to check out some of the creative combinations people have come up with in the full article!

Use Case Spotlight: Party-cipation

Illustration by Uncommon Criminal

 

This month’s Use Case Spotlight is all about an aspect of Habitica that a lot of people cite as the most motivating: parties! We asked users to chat about how they keep things exciting, motivating, and supportive in their parties, and we got so many responses we’ve only chosen a selection here.

First up, Angela Arreaga put words to why the party system can be so rewarding:

I think the biggest benefit of being a part of a party is having kind of a small visual showing you that your successes, or failures, actually do impact your community, and even the world as a whole, be it on a grand scale, or a small one our lives intertwine. It’s nice being with an actually active party for a change.

ohmywurd shared some of the things they do with their party to keep things interesting:

I have been a party leader for a little over a year and it has been challenging, motivating, and enjoyable every step of the way. In terms of excitement and motivation, I have hosted costume challenges (we’re just starting our second one), activity challenges, goal setting challenges, and a random act of kindness challenge. The activity challenges are usually composed of dailies or habits that ask the participant to check in with the chat or cast a spell for the whole party. In the goal setting challenge we did, I invited members to learn about SMART Goal setting and choose a goal to complete in the month, checking in with them several times over the month. The Random Act of Kindness challenge is a little self explanatory but my party really enjoyed it.

ecaking shared a bit about how their party members encourage and support one another:

Sometimes being motivating is as simple as complimenting your party member whenever they hatch a new pet/mount or show off their new equipment. We take on quests one after another, and after finishing each one, we congratulate each other for a job well done. Habitica is not just a fun game for us, but also a sincere support group. We have a separate chat group on Facebook to discuss in more detail our current struggles and successes. All feelings are welcome–from (lots and lots of) anxiety to gratitude to relief. Everyone takes turns validating each other’s feelings and gives suggestions on how to move forward.

Finally, bakthezar explained their democratic system for choosing quests, and also the importance of having someone knowledgeable in the party:

I think one of the most engaging things I do is let the party nominate their own quests and we have a shared list to accomplish together in order. It’s a pretty democratic system where everyone gets the do the Quests they want, have a reason to work on their habits, and a need to check in every day. I rarely need to put in the last say. I also make a point to master and study all the Habitica tricks and knowledge on the Wiki. Anytime there is a question, I can usually answer it fairly quickly and link them to the right place to find out more.

Do you have other thoughts about how you keep your party interesting and exciting? You can share them in the replies to this blog post. Don’t forget to check out the conversation in the Use Case Spotlights Guild, as well!

We’ll be announcing the theme for the next Use Case Spotlight soon, so if you’re interested in contributing to this feature, join the guild and keep an eye out. You could be featured next time if you reply to our prompt!

Guild Spotlights: Our Favourites

With all the Guilds on Habitica, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. This year, our Guild Spotlights are going to highlight the favourite Guilds of Habitica’s staff, moderators and maybe some high-level contributors! If you want to curate your Habitica experience and join active, positive Guilds, this is a great way to pick up some new ideas for Guilds to join.

Next up for this feature are moderator shanaqui’s picks. You may have seen shanaqui keeping the Tavern tidy, helping out on the Art Trello and answering adventurers’ queries in Report a Bug, but here’s where they hang out when they take their mod hat off!

Gamified Reading: “I’m always worried about meeting my reading goals, so this Guild’s series of reading challenges with “bosses” to defeat are right up my alley. It’s great to have the reminder to check in with the group, and the sense of meeting my goals alongside other people.”

The Legendary Book Club of Habitica: “This is one of the Guilds I’m most active in, making challenges and sharing thoughts on books in general. Everyone’s super friendly and we’ve read a lot of books together!”

Knitting & Crocheting!: “Everyone here is so helpful when you post with problems, and there are Challenges to help you stick to your crafting goals. It’s a nice place to go unwind and just chat about pretty yarn or making a cosy sweater.”

You can jump in and check out these Guilds for yourself at the links above! If none of these sound like your thing, don’t worry! There are lots of other Guild Spotlights on this blog that you can check out, and there’s a new spotlight every month!

Food Preferences

It’s Wiki Wednesday! Once a month we highlight a helpful post from the Wiki with tips about productivity, wellness, and optimizing your use of Habitica!

If you’ve been on Habitica for long enough to get to level three, you probably have a pet or two already — but do you know how to feed them up so they become mounts? You’ve probably noticed that when you feed a pet, you get a message about whether they liked the food or not. Here’s a little secret: they grow faster on their favourite foods! The Wiki has a handy page that breaks it all down:

A green food bar appears under a pet that has not already been hatched and grown before. This bar tracks a pet’s growth towards becoming a mount.

  • When hatched, a pet starts with 10% of the bar filled.
  • The bar increases by a certain amount each time the pet is fed. Preferred foods fill the Food Bar much faster (10% per item) than non-preferred foods (4% per item).
  • It takes 9 preferred foods or 23 non-preferred foods for a pet to grow into a mount.

Check out the full Wiki article for all the details! But be careful sharing your new knowledge… some people like to figure it out for themselves!

Use Case Spotlight: Custom Habitica Mechanics

buying_rewards_vampitch_2x
Illustration by Vampitch

Habitica is a great app right out of the box (if we do say so ourselves!), but there’s always room for personalization. This month we’ve been asking people in the Use Case Spotlights Guild to share how they customize Habitica to create game mechanics that increase their motivation. If you’re interested in learning about how to create a Mana Potion or skip forward in time, here are some titbits other users shared about how they make Habitica more rewarding and fun!

To start with, shanaqui shared how they use the Fix Character Values feature in conjunction with custom Rewards:

Most of my customisation of Habitica uses Fix Character Values (in Settings). The most motivating thing for me is using skills (especially Tools of the Trade, when I’m a Rogue), so I have a 50 gold reward that lets me buy 25 mana to use my skills. I do also trade experience for mana, so that as a Mage I can cast lots of skills for my party without levelling up too fast.

Dewines has another tip on using Fix Character Values for good, to “loan” yourself gold for seasonal items! (There’s still time to take advantage of this in the Winter Wonderland festivities…)

I haven’t done much of this recently, but when I was new to Habitica and didn’t always have enough gold to buy seasonal outfits, I would set up a “bank” using FCV and give myself a “loan”. I used a Reward to make a note of how much I’d borrowed and then when I could afford a repayment, I could click the Reward which would deduct 50 or 100 gold (or whatever you want to set as the repayment rate). I would than edit the extra notes on the Reward to record the new value of the “loan”.

Meanwhile, MaybeSteveRogers gets round the fact that overdue To-Dos don’t damage you by using Habits:

I punish myself for missing due dates on To-Dos with a negative-only Habit set to ‘hard’ difficulty. Every day I go past a deadline, I have to click it X amount of times for each due date I’m missing. An easy or trivial To-Do means I have to click the negative Habit once, a medium difficulty = twice, and a hard difficulty one = three clicks of the negative Habit. Even with only one click a day, the Habit slowly turns more and more orange. If I’m missing hard To-Dos, the damage can quickly become devastating.

Finally, etherfly shared an amazing Collection Quest modification that soothed some of the frustrations of a low Perception stat!

Being a warrior in a small party without rogues, I was quite discouraged by collection quests (especially with the item overflow glitch), so I created a special habit “Rage: Reveal All”, that had a “rage bar” from 0 to 100 associated with it. Rage would fill a little every time when I:

  • completed a task and didn’t get a quest item, depending on task difficulty;
  • had items go over the maximum.

When the rage bar was full, I’d reset it and activate the habit a number of times to make decent progress on the quest. All other rewards – EXP, gold and mana – I rolled back using FCV.

There were some other great suggestions in the Guild, so don’t forget to check it out to see them! And don’t forget, if you participate in next month’s discussion, you could be featured in the next Use Case Spotlight blog post, as well…

Guild Spotlight: Our Favourites

With all the Guilds on Habitica, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. This year, our Guild Spotlights are going to highlight the favourite guilds of Habitica’s staff, moderators and maybe some high-level contributors! If you want to curate your Habitica experience and join active, positive Guilds, this is a great way to pick up some new ideas for Guilds to join.

beffymaroo_contrib_promo

We’re starting off the feature with beffymaroo‘s picks. You’ve probably seen beffymaroo around Habitica moderating the Tavern, managing the pixel art and slaying errant tasks, but these are the Guilds she favours when off-duty, and her comments about them!

Cat Lovers: “As you may have seen elsewhere I have an orange cat named Beauford who I love very much! You may have noticed the Tavern has an orange cat in it, she’s a hat from the Enchanted Armoire but slightly recolored to look more like Beauford. Cat Lovers is a very pleasant and active Guild where cat owners can ask each other advice and just generally talk about cats and cat-adjacent topics. They also have a nice Challenge for spending more time having meaningful interaction with your cat.”

tavern_banner
Trivia Fact: The Tavern Cat is named Belleford!

Seamstress Collective: “This sewing Guild is a great place to discuss your projects and get tips and help from other folks who sew! They run some really useful monthly Challenges to help you get motivated to work on a project or use your supplies (I have a fabric hoard and this is very helpful for me!).”

Playing With Power: Nintendo of Habitica: “I’m a somewhat avid gamer when I have time (probably not a surprise!) and when I play it’s mostly on Nintendo systems. This Guild is a great place to meet fellow Nintendo fans and discuss what you’re playing, or ask about other games that interest you.”

If any of those Guilds sound exciting to you, now’s a perfect time to jump in! If not, there are lots of other Guild spotlights to browse through, and there’ll be a new spotlight next month!