Behind the Scenes: Bringing a World Boss to Life

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!

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Nothing brings Habitica together like an epic monster battle! World Bosses are some of the community’s favorite events, so in this edition of Behind the Scenes we’ll share the exciting history of Habitica’s World Bosses, plus inside information on all the hard work from the team that goes into making these events happen!

Leslie (AKA Lemoness) is the creative mind behind a lot of aspects of Habitica’s big events, including art, potential features, and quests. She had some great memories to share about the origins of World Bosses to start us off: “After our first successful Winter Wonderland event, I turned my attention to the rest of the year. The spring event would be pretty straightforward, but what about the summer event? There aren’t many classic holidays that land in the summertime, but I’ve always adored oceans and undersea adventures, so I knew that I wanted to incorporate some. Since I’d been looking for an opportunity to expand Habitica’s narrative and worldbuilding, this seemed like a perfect fit. I created a mysterious plot-line leading up to the discovery of a lost underwater city and, since raid bosses had been a common feature request, I decided to develop a World Boss to explain how it had sunk beneath the waves.”

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It’s understandable to want to sink beneath the waves if you see this coming at you!

“Implementing the Dread Drag’on of Dilatory was a monstrous task, especially since it was happening at the same time as the first Summer Splash gala, with all the attendant art and coding needs. I reached out to artisan baconsaur, who was doing a lot of art for us and who I knew was fond of dragons; they eagerly agreed to the secret project. We also had art that had been previously submitted for some Mantis Shrimps, whose rainbow splendor hadn’t leant itself well to the usual pet recolors. Seeing an opportunity, I worked them into the plot-line as well.  Our exhaustion was kept at bay by the increasing enthusiasm of the community as each new Bailey announcement held more clues about the coming event. When the Drag’on finally attacked, the reaction was tremendous – a fanclub Guild even opened up!”

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. Just before the first Rage Strike, an unscrupulous rogue discovered an exploit in the World Boss code and slew the Dread Drag’on overnight. We awoke to a huge onslaught of confused and despairing messages from the community, who felt understandably cheated that the mighty Boss had vanished while it was still brimming with health. Worse, we had included gold and XP rewards, like with any normal Boss, so people found that they’d inexplicably and abruptly leveled up, and that their gold reserves were completely unbalanced for no apparent reason. It was a royal mess, but we managed to hastily fix the exploit, relaunch the Drag’on (which had “merely ducked underwater to revitalize itself”), and change the prizes to include an assortment of food instead of gold/XP. In fact, it was during this glitch that Beth (AKA: Beffymaroo) earned her very first Habitica contributor tier! She got a socialite tier for answering many, many questions from players confused by the premature end of the battle, and the rest is history. And the remainder of the event went… dare we say it?… swimmingly!

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Little known fact about Mantis Shrimp: They love puns.

After the resounding popularity of the first World Boss, people immediately began asking for another. Eek! Doing one during every event would be too much work (as well as anticlimactic), but Leslie sat down and planned out the next three World Bosses and how they would involve the discovery of new lands and characters during other seasonal events. The results of that brainstorming session were spread out over almost two years. If you’ve been around Habitica for a while, you might remember the Abominable Stressbeast, the dread Burnout, and the dazzling but dangerous Be-Wilder!

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A shifty-looking bunch for sure!

Since World Bosses have always been such a hit with the community, we decided another battle was due soon! We’d already had a World Boss in each Grand Gala, so we thought that Valentines’ Day would be a great Habitica event for an epic monster to make an appearance. Once Leslie’s ideas and concepts were out there, it was time to make it all come together with the help of the rest of the Habitica team!

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Perhaps the aspects of the World Boss that are most familiar to Habiticans are the pieces of amazing art involved! The Dysheartener was created by talented Habitica artisan AnnDeLune, who started working on the dread creature many months beforehand in order to make it perfectly terrifying.

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We also needed art to show the destructive havoc wrought by the boss when a rage strike occurred! Beffymaroo, using colors and concepts from the boss art, created the scenes for the affected shops showing the effects of the Dysheartener’s attacks.

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We will rebuild! But who will be next?? *cue dramatic music*

When it comes down to the all-important mechanics of the World Boss, we check in with Sabe (AKA SabreCat) about what’s needed from a programming perspective! Sabe gets all the ducks in a row for the boss’s health and rage, and how Habiticans will damage it, and then the team takes some time to test out the mechanics so that we know everything will work as intended. Our brave bug-smasher Alys also pitched in to help with testing and with readying the Phobia Protection Extension so that any Habiticans with phobias that might be set off by this creepy-crawly creature had the option to hide the artwork.

World Boss battles are a big event to fit into Habitica’s pixel world, and luckily we have talented designers to help us make them look and feel even more exciting! Tressley (AKA Apollo) and piyorii (AKA Sara) created special designs for the Tavern on web and mobile to help everyone get hyped about taking the monster down.

We’ve been able to make incremental improvements like these to the World Bosses each time, including adding animation in 2016, but this year’s World Boss has had the most improvements yet, including the revamped design in the Tavern, the detailed NPC banners in the event of a Rage Strike, and the improved integration with our mobile apps. And of course, as we look forward to future World Bosses, there will be plenty more fun in store!

With so many moving parts and so many folks involved, it takes a lot of cooperation, coordination, commitment, and time to bring a World Boss to the Tavern. But when we see how much the community enjoys fighting to save Habitica, it makes it all worthwhile!

Until next time! ❤

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