Places for Polyglots: Guilds for Learning Languages

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Illustration by OuttaMyMind

Happy Fall! Whether you’re in school, or just learning on your own, it’s a great time to expand your knowledge. Habiticans love to learn, and one of the things they love to learn most are new languages. In this month’s Spotlight we’re focusing just a few of the many Guilds in Habitica where you can find fellow players to support you in your language-learning journey!

Duolinguists of Habitica: https://habitica.com/groups/guild/22360759-fd87-444d-86bd-42724be07bd7

Do you use Duolingo? It’s a language-learning app that many Habiticans love, and you can find them here! Duolinguists of Habitica has a supportive, active chat and a huge variety of Challenges for different languages you might be interested in learning.

The Language Hackers: https://habitica.com/groups/guild/283171a5-422c-4991-bc78-95b1b5b51629

This Guild is for anyone who wants to learn a new language, or even many new languages! They have a great resource list of apps, sites, and books that can help you reach your goal. They also offer Challenges to help give you extra incentive as you work on your linguistic skills.

The JRPG Club: https://habitica.com/groups/guild/df76bff9-28c8-4aed-8ba9-ac83095f9530

If you’re learning Japanese, or interested in learning Japanese, this Guild is here for you! The JRPG club runs several Challenges for extra motivation. You can discuss your approach to learning, post in Japanese, and share tips and resources in their chat.

Learning French – Apprendre le français:
https://habitica.com/groups/guild/3272dfab-2b42-4ccd-ab12-eeeb4aed63ad

This Guild is here for any Habitican who speaks French or aspires to! You can post about your favorite strategies and resources in their Guild chat. They also have challenges (in both French and English) to help with motivation and accountability as you learn.

These Guilds and many, many others are here to help you become bilingual, trilingual, or a polyglot. We’ll definitely be highlighting more language-learning Guilds in the future as well, so let us know if there is one you’d like to see featured!  And if you’re looking for more advice on using Habitica to learn languages, be sure to read this month’s Use Case Spotlight, featuring tips and tricks from fellow Habiticans!

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Extra Motivation or Undue Rewards?

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Illustration by CitrineSun

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!

As autumn approaches, you may be re-evaluating your Tasks and the way you use Habitica. Maybe you’re wondering if your approach is making things too easy, or if you’re rewarding yourself too much. This month, on our ongoing tour of some of the most helpful articles the Habitica Wiki has to offer, we’ll take a look at some advice the Wiki Scribes have about what “cheating” is in Habitica and how you can balance staying motivated with keeping yourself accountable.

Habitica is here to help players learn good habits (and unlearn bad ones), not to stress them out and make them feel guilty. The right way to play is the way that is the most productive and effective for you.

To that end, “problem cheating” would be any dishonest play by which a player avoids being productive (possibly rewarding them as though they had been).

Want to know more? Head over to the wiki to check out the full article!

Behind the Scenes: A Costume-Making Adventure with Beffymaroo!

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. Enjoy!

Hello Habiticans! In this post I’m going to talk a little bit about one of my hobbies, which is costuming.

You may have seen my moderator avatar before, either in my profile or maybe on an image somewhere on the site. Like all the Moderator and Staff avatars, mine was created by the fabulous Lemoness! (Look for an upcoming Behind the Scenes post in the coming months about how she creates the Staff and Mod avatars!) And, also like the other Mod and Staff avatars, the way my avatar appears is based on requests I made, and how Lemoness incorporated those requests.

In my case, when Lemoness asked me if I had any requests for my Mod avatar, I sent along a photo of myself in costume- specifically, a picture of me in costume as a fantasy character I like to dress as at various events.

 

(left photo courtesy of Fantasies Muse Photography)

You can see the resemblance, I’m sure!

Are you interested in creating your own costumes? Here are some tips from what I’ve learned:

  • It’s totally OK to use something pre-existing to create a costume. Making things totally from scratch is great if you have the time and skills, but you can definitely look great using pre-made items. If you’re interested in Renaissance Faires or events like the Masquerade I attended, you can find lots of things you can use as a base just at department stores (particularly if you want to use garments from the womens’ and juniors’ sections) because a sort of Renaissance/Medieval look is in-style right now (I’m guessing this is Game of Thrones-related). Thrift stores also can have some great hidden gems if you have time to hunt for them.
  • The internet also never ceases to amaze me with what you can find. It’s easier than ever to get wings, prosthetics, special-effect makeup, lights, pre-made embroidery, and all sorts of fun things by searching Amazon and other sites. If you see me around Habitica, feel free to ask for recommendations!
  • If you get a pre-made garment, item, or prop, try dressing it up with your own touches to make it unique! Try adding paint, jewels, flowers, or hemming it to a length you like, or anything! You’ll stand out from the crowd.
  • Never be afraid to try something new. When I came up with the plan for this costume, I was pretty intimidated because it was all things I’d never tried before or was new at, such as dyeing and wiring lights into a garment. Definitely take it slow and be careful, especially with expensive materials, but don’t let fear of failure keep you from trying!
  • Join a group or community of fellow costumers/garment makers. It’s awesome to have support and folks that you can come to with questions (or people who can re-wire you when something breaks…). Maybe you have crafty friends, or maybe your community center or school has sewing or crafting hobby groups or classes you can meet up with. Habitica also has some wonderful Guilds you can join! Check out The Seamstress Collective or  Cosplay and Costuming.

If you are interested in how I create costumes, read on for a step-by-step adventure with me as I made a very special outfit for a big event!

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The costume I created for Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade. Image courtesy of Fantasies Muse Photography

This year, I decided to attend the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball, a huge costume ball held in Los Angeles each year. I had many friends who had attended in the past, and it sounded like something I’d really enjoy. Plus, it gave me a chance to try a fancier costume! Most of the things I have are designed for outdoor events where they may get dirty, or where I will probably be way too warm all the time and will sweat a lot. Hence, they tend to be things that are light, easy to wash, and made of natural fibers. A masquerade ball indoors, at night, at a hotel, definitely opened up some new possibilities.

For some time I’d wanted to try something with LED lights- they’re getting cheaper and easier to find these days, especially with small and easy-to-conceal battery packs. At some point this idea clicked together with my bridesmaid’s dress from my brother’s wedding in May. It had layers of mesh, which provided some interesting possibilities for adding lights.

I decided I wanted to dye the dress a darker green, attach flowers to the mesh layers to create a floaty and fun classic fairy look, and then wire in the lights. I wanted the lights to shine through the flowers, so it appeared that the flowers themselves were illuminated. I also wanted to create matching accessories for my hair to unify the look.

So, first things first! I acquired my supplies:

-Dress (a rather expensive one at that, but I guess the conceit with bridesmaid dresses is that you’re never going to wear them again, so any re-use is a win, right?)

-Green dye (as this dress was polyester, a dye specially made for artificial fabrics was needed- you can find these at most craft and fabric stores)

-Lots’ o silk flowers!

 

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They’re surprisingly expensive if you’re picky about realism.

-I also supplemented the flowers with feather butterflies for even more magical fae vibe.

-stiff felt or other backing for hair accessories

-strong clips for the hair accessories

-Multicolored LED lights, lots of them!

 

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Fingers shown for scale
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Cat shown for scale

The very first thing I did was dye the dress. Dyeing artificial fabric takes a long time and has to be done over the stove, so it was quite an undertaking.

The next step, unfortunately, was a LOT of very gentle, careful ironing on a very low setting. The dyeing process had wrinkled the dress a lot. Polyester is by definition a wrinkle-free fabric, so once you get wrinkles in they don’t want to come out! If you encounter this situation I recommend extreme caution (and research) to avoid burning or melting delicate fabrics.

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Duct tape: never overrated.

Next, it was time to attach flowers! In order to have the dress hang similarly to the way it would fit on me, I rigged up a homemade dressmaker’s dummy from a duct-tape form of my torso stuffed with a pillow, a chair, and a few dowels.. It looked weird, but it worked! If you are doing costuming and would like a dressmaker’s dummy, but don’t have the money or space for one, I highly recommend trying out the duct-tape dress form technique (you can google to find lots of tutorials for this!). A duct-tape dress form can also be a great addition to a traditional dressmaker’s dummy if you want it to be more customized to your shape.

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At this stage my Instagram captions became increasingly ridiculous.

I planned out the shape of where the flowers and butterflies would go more or less in my head and started to pin them to the netting layers. After pinning a half-dozen or so, I’d hand sew each flower on with thread that approximately matched them in color. Does that sound tedious? Because let me tell you, a hundred or so flowers in, it was.

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It’s all fun and games until your fingers start getting sore.

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Now the fun part: wiring in the lights! I cut small holes from the inside of the dress through the solid layer so I could snake the wire with the LED lights through. As I positioned the wire, I sewed the wire to the netting layers so it would stay up and hold its shape.

 

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Photography in dark closets was another skill set I developed in this process.

Finally, wowee! A light-up dress!! Time to accessorize.

I created the hair accessories by attaching lights to stiff fabric backings attached to strong clips with hot glue. Then I added flowers and butterflies on top (with more hot glue!) so the lights would shine through them. Each one had a battery pack on the back of the piece where I could switch them on and off, and even put in new batteries if needed.

The very last thing I did was wire more colored lights around my antlers so they would also light up.

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Yet more selfies in dark closets. Good times.

All in all I estimate that all of this, not including shopping time, took about 40-50 hours.  And if you’re wondering, yes, when I checked off my checklist To-Do for making this outfit, I got a LOT of XP. 😉

As you might imagine, I was very excited to share the results of my work at the ball! But [dramatic music] there was one more trial ahead!

As I put the dress on the night of the ball, one of the battery packs snapped off the wiring! [cue Scream emoji] My friends Michael and Ale stopped their own getting-ready processes and actually wired both sets together to one battery pack! Using a grooming kit and sewing scissors, they stripped the wires, twisted them together, and then we insulated them with band-aids and doused them in hot glue for security. I can’t even convey how lucky I am to have such caring friends with awesome MacGuyver-like skills!

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After this very tense moment and happy resolution, I was finally time to share the outfit by wearing it to the ball! I was super proud of my creation, and had a great time with my friends enjoying the fantasy scene and admiring the beautiful costume and makeup work of all the other folks in attendance! If you’d like to see more of these fantastic outfits for yourself, you can find a gallery from this year’s event here.  And if you ever get a chance to go to this event or another masquerade ball, definitely do!

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While I still consider myself a novice in the world of sewing and costume, I hope my discussion of one costume-making process and the tips I’ve given here inspire you to look into the subject for yourself! I’d love to see you all posting about your projects on Habitica! And let me know if you enjoyed this post! If there’s further interest I’d like to make more posts about sewing, crafting, and fantasy costuming.

Use Case Spotlight: Learning Languages

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Illustration by OuttaMyMind

In last month’s Use Case Spotlight we featured tips and tricks from Habiticans about using the site and apps to learn new things. This month we continue our knowledge-gaining journey and look at some great ideas for using Habitica to set (and maintain!) new tasks and goals related to Learning Languages. These come from your fellow players in the Use Case Spotlights Guild!

nine6s knows consistency is key!

I use Habitica to ensure I consistently work on all factors of a language. I have a daily for each skill, such as Writing, Speaking (I use HelloTalk for that), Reading, Listening/Watching, and Vocabulary. I make sure I am focusing 90% of my language learning being exposed to the language, not on grammar, because most people perfect a language through intensive immersion. And it has worked great for me. Also, for some dailies I set them to every two days since I may not have time for everything. …It helps me keep consistent and never miss a day when I am not exposed to the language.

jiiif uses Habitica with other programs and media to immerse themselves in their learning!

Since joining Habitica a month ago, I’m on a language learning streak! I am currently learning Korean and I’m listening to the Talk to Me in Korean Podcast and revising using the Memrise course “Every TTMIK Lesson (Levels 1-10)”. I created a positive Habit for Korean and a Daily for Memrise. I click on the Habit whenever I expose myself to Korean in general – whether it’s watching a youtube video or listening to the TTMIK podcast or whenever I use a Korean app. I log on to Memrise every day and whenever I’m finished with my Memrise daily goal, I get to click on both my Memrise Daily and my Korean Habit which gets me double rewards! This is proving to be a big motivator and I haven’t missed a day since I started Habitica.

Eri101 pairs Habitica with Duolingo!

I’ve been using Duolingo lately to keep fresh the French I’ve learned over the years. I used to join a monthly challenge that added a habit to do a lesson. Now I’ve made it a daily to better motivate me to not lose a streak in Duolingo (Which allows you to get rewards for maintaining week-long streaks, for those unaware). So far it’s been a great motivator to keep up with lessons and advance levels. I’ve been happily surprised by the number of people I’ve noticed on Habitica that also use Duolingo, so it’s nice to see how others use the apps together!

Sessy reminds us we learn better when we’re havng fun with it!

I find one of the best ways to really have expressions, etc sinking in, is to reread translations of your favourite childhood chapter books – the ones that you read over and over again as a kid – because these have become ingrained into your way of speaking and knowing those idioms adds vocabulary and fluency that you will actually use. Adding a reading for fun daily to your language learning plan can be really effective and make more enjoyable.

There were so many helpful and exciting tips we couldn’t feature them all here! You can see them all and join in the discussion in the Use Case Spotlights Guild– one of your ideas could be featured next month! Look for an announcement of next month’s theme from Bailey soon.