Behind the Scenes: What We’re Playing

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Illustration by eyenne

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! It probably won’t come as a big surprise to you all that many of the Habitica Staff are huge video game fans. Today we’re sharing some of the (non-Habitica) games we’re currently playing.

Vicky (AKA Redphoenix):

“I Love Hue (iOS and Android) is a soothing mobile game where you put colors in order. I find it just hard enough to be interesting, but not so engaging so as to suck me away from work I need to be doing and thereby cause more stress. When decisionmaking can get reduced to “is this a purple-y grey or a blue-y grey”, I’m in a comforting kind of zone.

Bastion:  Oldie but goodie! I’m on my first play through (rather than watching someone else play it) and I’m enjoying a lot about the game—particularly the narration performance and art direction. Did you know it was made by a seven person team?”

Leslie (AKA Lemoness):

“Minit:
A snappy, fun pixel adventure where, thanks to a cursed sword, you have only 60 seconds at a time to run around the world, accomplish tasks, and solve puzzles. I thought this game handled its unique constraint in a very clever way.

Gorogoa:
A beautiful, contemplative, wordless game that uses unique perspectives to drive its thoughtful puzzles as you slowly unfold the plot. Dream-like and fascinating, this mobile game has become one of my recent favorites.

Guildlings (Beta Testing):
Technically this comes out in the summer, but I enjoyed the build that I tested enough to mention it! Fun character banter, great art, and an enjoyable “wizards and wifi” premise… but I probably shouldn’t say too much about it yet. I will note that I particularly loved Syb the Upstart and her various “startups” — a word that has a slightly different meaning in the fantasy world of Guildlings… ;)”

Beth (AKA Beffymaroo):

“Like many out there, I’m playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch right now. I’m shamefully behind and haven’t had a chance to play in a while, so I definitely need to get back to it! It’s a beautiful game with a gorgeous landscape and soundtrack, and I love all the many many things to do and explore. As far as I’m concerned it lives up to the hype!

On mobile, I’m playing Flutter: Starlight (available on iOS and Android). It’s a moth collecting game, pretty much. I love lepidopterans generally, and I chose the “Starlight” moth version over the original with butterflies because I find the color scheme and music more soothing. I also love learning more about all the beautiful and strange moths out there! Vicky is also playing and we like to compare notes on our strategies for collecting moths during their special events.”

Keith (AKA TheHollidayInn):

Final Fantasy 14 – my default stress relief. I’m a big Final Fantasy fan and this game has been create since the release of A Realm Reborn

Monster Hunter World – A very nice sequel to the ongoing franchise. My friends pushed me to get in to this grind with them, but it is pretty great.

Mafia III – I’m just starting this game because it is on my Humble Bundle Monthly (which I highly recommend getting). So far so good!”

Tressley (AKA Apollo):

Alien: Isolation
A dark, stealthy survival horror game based on the Alien film series. The game’s plot is set 15 years after the events of the original Alien film. You play Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, while you try to investigate the disappearance of your mother. I’ve really been enjoying this installment in the Alien game series as the stealth/survival horror aspect evokes the original 1979 film’s feeling and tone.

Golf It
A fun mini-golf game focused primarily on the multiplayer experience. The map editor makes for some frustrating, but exciting games with friends. Best paired with a fun group on Discord.”

Sabe (AKA SabreCat):

“Current game: Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura. Isometric RPG from the early 00’s with a fantasy-steampunk milieu. Has a lot of variety in how you can build a character, from gunslingers to necromancers to diplomats!

Also using Tabletop Simulator to play the dungeon-fantasy campaign board game Gloomhaven. Explore the world, level up, fulfill your personal quests, opening sealed envelopes and boxes as you unlock new characters and expand the town!”

Nikki (AKA shanaqui):

“I’m usually playing too many casual games at once, while neglecting a plotty behemoth I should be keeping track of. Right now I’m ignoring my replay of Final Fantasy XIII — I love the whole FF series, but this is not a fave! I do really enjoy strategising with the different class combinations, but I haven’t got to that stage in my replay yet. Casually, I’m playing Kingdom Rush Frontiers, which is a tower defence game with fun Easter eggs now and then. Perpetually, I’m playing Faster Than Light, which I’ve played nearly 200 hours of and won only eight times. I enjoy the mix of luck and strategy, though, and I have some fun mods which make things even more strategic.

Huh, apparently I’m into strategising and tactics? Good to know…”

Sara (AKA piyorii):

“I’m playing Nier: Automata. The game has an existential, calm post-apocalyptic atmosphere to it that I really enjoy exploring. Its one of those games that sticks with you after you turn it off, and I find myself talking with friends about our interpretations. It also has a very in-depth combat and upgrade system that has you learning slick combos and new strategies long into the game. I’m on my third playthrough, but unlike most games, each playthrough is like a sequel built into intended experience of the game as a whole. the first time you beat it, you don’t get all the story! I’m having a lot of fun exploring the world and uncovering all the secrets it’s hiding, and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes third person action RPGs.”

What games are you playing right now? We’d love to hear your recommendations! Feel free to share them in the comments, or pop into the Tavern chat to discuss there! ❤

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Behind the Scenes: Habitica Staff Podcast Picks!

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Illustration by Jessica Chase and 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 month’s edition of Behind the Scenes, we’re talking podcasts! If you’re not already on the podcast train, we highly recommend hopping on. Podcasts are a great way to learn, laugh, and be entertained when your media choices are limited to audio options. We love to listen to them while commuting, doing chores around the house, exercising, and more!

Beffymaroo, AKA Beth:

“I listen to TONS of podcasts. A lot of them are true-crime podcasts, because that’s a subject I’m very interested in. A pick I think might be more relevant to Habiticans (and easier for Tavern discussion, haha) is Stuff You Missed in History Class. It’s a really fun show from HowStuffWorks where the hosts discuss interesting off-the-beaten path corners of world history, or more obscure facts about well-known events and people. It’s always fascinating and often gives me a good laugh, too!”

SabreCat, AKA Sabe:

The Fastcast is ‘a podcast for nerds with short attention spans.’ It’s a discussion ‘cast covering pop culture and media, with an emphasis on niche games, each episode edited down to around 20 minutes. I like it because I tend not to be able to concentrate if I have a podcast running while I do other things, so the short runtime is good to sit with, listen to in its entirety, and move on!”

Redphoenix, AKA Vicky:

Planet Money: One of the great NPR podcasts (next to This American Life, which goes without saying). Covers topics about finance and economics in a really accessible and often entertaining way. Not at all as dry as you would expect given the subject matter.

Martini Shot: roughly four minutes per episode on the foibles of the entertainment industry, but often generally applicable to other contexts. Rob Long, the host, strikes an excellent balance between being respectful but not indulgent of the craziness of show business.

Writing Excuses: This Hugo award-winning podcast takes fifteen minutes to break down a particular aspect of the writing craft. Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowal bring a variety of writing styles and philosophies to the table and are often joined by additional writer friends. A mini lecture series taught by the who’s who of science fiction and fantasy writers.”

Vicky also recommends this link from How-To Geek if you need help getting started with podcasts.

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Paglias, AKA Matteo:

Matteo recommends The Indie Hackers Podcast: “It’s a series of conversations with founders of small internet business , how they got the ideas, the customers, the problems they had, etc.”  Sounds like a great fit for Habiticans interested in the start-up world or internet-based business!

TheHollidayInn, AKA Keith:

“I definitely recommend Ologies – it has a great host who interviews all different types of -ologists. Then Stuff To Blow Your Mind with two host who delve into interesting facts of life and discuss the research behind it. And finally I recommend Pod Save America because politics can be fun and it’s important 🙂 ”

Viirus, AKA Phillip:

“Currently I like to listen to Under the Radar, which is a 30 minute podcast about iOS development and working as an independent developer and Fragmented, which is about Android development. For non-tech podcasts I also like the Invisibilia podcast, that explores various topics about how humans are shaped by “invisible” influences.”

Lemoness, AKA Leslie:

“I actually spend all my listening time on audiobooks instead! I check them out of the library for free using the Overdrive app. It’s a great way to read books while doing chores.”

What podcasts are you loving right now? We’d love to hear your recommendations! Feel free to share them in the comments, or pop into the Tavern chat to discuss there! ❤

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! ❤

Behind the Scenes: Spotlight on Lady Glaciate

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. Today we’re doing something a little different: we’re expanding on the fictional world of Habitica by spotlighting one of the characters who commonly crops up. Enjoy!

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The Master of Warriors may be known for her terse manner and no-nonsense attitude, but if you delve a little deeper, you’ll find that this is only the tip of the iceberg…

Backstory

Lady Glaciate is descended from a long line of Mammoth Riders, the steadfast warriors from the Stoïkalm Steppes who have pledged themselves to defend Habitica’s rarest creatures in the peaceful but frigid north. She was not initially the most talented at guiding the mastodon herds, nor the quickest to memorize the pterodactyl calls, nor even the strongest at wrestling the velociraptors. But with her determination, focus, and careful balance of work and rest, she eventually surpassed those who had initially seemed more promising. When she was finally declared the next leader of the Mammoth Riders, all but the most curmudgeonly applauded the decision.

After the announcement, she was taken aside and entrusted with the most important secret of the Stoïkalm Steppes. For generations, the land had been touted as one of the most peaceful areas of Habitica, despite its perennially cold temperatures, but the lack of tumult and violent weather was not due to natural causes. Instead, for generations the leaders of the Mammoth Riders had magically funneled away all potential stresses and stressors into the icy northern mountains. This was what had allowed them to build their breathtaking buildings of ice and stone, widely considered to be architectural marvels, and to protect the rare animals of the Stoïkalm Steppes, which had long since gone extinct everywhere else.

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Glaciate had grave misgivings about this strategy; she herself was terse to the point of being gruff, and dissimulation went against her inclination towards brutal honesty. Still, she begrudgingly agreed to follow tradition to protect the beasts and her fellow Mammoth Riders. Unfortunately, her concerns proved to be well-founded. Unbeknownst to the leaders of the Mammoth Riders, the stress had been consolidating for centuries, and shortly after she took up her cape and antlers, it broke loose in the form of the Abominable Stressbeast.

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Nightmarish snowstorms swept across the countryside and animals fled as all of Habitica was terrorized by the monster. Lady Glaciate watched the disaster unfolding with horror in her heart, but she refused to be mired in guilt. After ordering her Mammoth Riders to defend Stoïkalm and verifying that other Habiticans were battling the Stressbeast, Lady Glaciate rushed north.  The mountain peaks had gone from treacherous to deadly with the onset of the sub-zero blizzards. Undeterred, she forced her way, step by step, to the secret valley where the centuries of stress had gathered, and with frost-bitten fingers, she systematically smashed all the magic sigils that had siphoned and stored it. Overtaken by exhaustion but secure in the knowledge that the Stressbeast could not reform once defeated, she finally permitted herself to collapse into the whirling snow.

Were circumstances different, she might not have survived, but that same day, the Abominable Stressbeast was vanquished, and as the snow dissipated, the pets and mounts returned to the valley and discovered her fallen form. They rushed her back to the rest of the Mammoth Riders, whose skillful healers worked tirelessly to restore her to health. As soon as she could ride once more, Lady Glaciate insisted on traveling to each affected area to extend a personal apology. Afterwards, she turned herself in to Habitica’s grand council, prepared to accept whatever punishment they meted out.

Instead, she was shocked when they offered her the position of Master of Warriors. Though her lapse of judgement did have dire consequences, they felt that her actions afterwards had proved her worth beyond a shadow of doubt. After considerable thought, Lady Glaciate accepted the position so that she might better protect all of Habitica.

Personal Life

Though she holds meetings in the ornate hall of the Mammoth Riders, Lady Glaciate lives in a simple house with many stables. She also maintains a cordial relationship with the magical beings in the area, such as the Icicle Drakes and Solstice Fairies, though she prefers to deal with creatures who don’t like to chat. When she needs a break, she goes on long cross-country ski trips by herself or rides through the mountain on her favorite mammoth, Sir Stomp.

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She is sometimes exhausted by the boundless enthusiasm of her fellow Masterclassers, but she appreciates the Joyful Reaper’s assistance with caring for the beasts of Stoïkalm in the newly tumultuous environment of the Steppes, and the Master of Healers has helped her reintroduce the endangered creatures to other areas of Habitica. Through King Manta and his undersea domain, she has also learned to befriend an entirely new set of pets and mounts, and has become particularly fond of whales.

When it comes to the charming Master of Rogues, Lady Glaciate had plenty to say to us, namely that all rumors about her relationship with the April Fool are false, and that she doesn’t know who keeps sending the bouquets, and that anyway she fed them all to the local triceratops herd. In fact, she grew so unexpectedly eloquent on the subject that nobody on our interview team was brave enough to point out that none of us had even asked anything about him yet. Given that many of her previous answers to our questions were monosyllabic, we will let our readers draw their own conclusions.

We hope that you enjoyed this month’s spotlight! You can read more about the other Masterclassers of Habitica here.

Behind the Scenes: Habitica’s Winter Staff Retreat!

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! Some of you might remember that this summer the Habitica Staff took a trip to the desert for work, bonding, and more than a touch of shenanigans. This winter, with lots of exciting things on the horizon for 2018, we decided to have another retreat. This time we headed for the U.S. East Coast and invited our two designers, Apollo (AKA: Tressley) and piyorii (AKA: Sara)!

Upon arrival, our first item on the agenda was acquiring food!

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Alys (on the right) takes in the uniquely American marvel of a salad composed mainly of red meat, cheese, and onion rings.

Once we arrived at the house we’d rented for the retreat, we launched straight into meetings! Meetings of all types and fashions.

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Beth (AKA: Beffymaroo) shows important graphs to the team. Definitely not cat pictures. This time, anyway. [L to R: Beth, Sabe (AKA: SabreCat), Leslie (AKA: Lemoness), Alys, and Keith (AKA: TheHollidayInn)]
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(From L) Leslie, Sara (AKA: piyorii), Tressley (AKA: Apollo), and Vicky (AKA: redphoenix) have a video conference for user feedback!
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Look how serious we are. Serious at all times. [L to R: Sara, Phillip (AKA: viirus), Vicky, and Beth]
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SERIOUS AT ALL TIMES. Note the big roll of paper, which should convey the seriousness. (Okay, maybe it was covered by Leslie’s sketches by the end, but those were serious too. Very serious cute winter critters and outfit ideas).
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The Big Roll of Paper featured pretty prominently in the meetings. Note the helpful plants.
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The mirrored dining room at the rental house gave us the illusion of our fondest dream: that we all had doubles to help us do our work more efficiently!

We spent a lot of time talking over our plans for the new year (get excited!!) and talking over areas where we want to improve and make things even better for all you Habiticans out there. ❤

But it wasn’t all 100% serious meetings. We found some time to balance out the hard work with fun and team bonding!

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During an important supply run, Beth and Sara found the llama onesies of their dreams.
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They attempted to nonchalantly join the team once they had donned their new workwear, but the fabulousness of the onesies was not to be ignored. Note Sabe’s trademark catlike alertness at the entrance of these strange creatures.
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As you can see, the addition of two would-be llamas to the team only increased our productivity.

We also have some team members who really love to cook, which worked out well for everyone. 🙂

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Vicky’s beloved sourdough starter, Fred, sacrificed part of himself for the purpose of waffle-making. A moment of silence for Fred, please, though some feeding should bring him back to his old self. Also notice Alys opening the waffle iron with her BEAR HAND!

 

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We even had a ramen day! Although Keith’s light-up holiday sweater really distracts from the beauty of the spread Phillip laid out for the team… ;P
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‘Tis the season for distracting novelty sweaters! 😀

And for dessert, a hot chocolate bar!

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What hath Sara wrought?…
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…only the most delicious of abominations.

We also made it a point to take a break from our computer screens and enjoy the beautiful natural scenery near the rental house!

 

 

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All in all we had a great time! We got a lot done, but still found time to enjoy ourselves — in the true spirit of Habitica!

Until next time! 🙂

Behind the Scenes: Tips for Burnout Prevention and Recovery from the Habitica Team!

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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! It’s November, which means we’re right in the thick of the school year and at the start of the rush into the holidays. And after that, we’re into the New Year! How time flies. At times like this, we may find ourselves extra busy, and when we’re extra busy there’s a chance that we may experience the dreaded burnout! In this Behind the Scenes post, some of the Habitica Staff + Mods share their tips and tricks for preventing and recovering from burnout.

Beth, AKA Beffymaroo:

My number one tip is to remember that being overwhelmed shouldn’t be a natural state of being or a state to aspire to. There’s a lot of pressure from different parts of our identities, surroundings, and the people in our lives to be constantly on the go or busy, and then when we actually have a moment where we’re not doing something work-related or “productive”, we feel guilty, like we’re wasting time. You should have moments of quiet, fun, or even just inactivity in your day so you can recharge your body, mind, and soul. Don’t let the “always busy” culture or comparisons with other people make you feel guilty for taking a moment for yourself or for keeping your workload manageable. The time you take for yourself and the boundaries you set for self-care time are an important part of being sustainably functional and productive!

Alys:

Make sure you take regular time off no matter what, and ask for help even when you know the people you’re asking are also busy. Accept that your feelings of burnout are normal and correct. You are meant to feel like this when you have been working too hard. It’s your mind and body’s way of letting you know that changing your processes is necessary to help yourself and to help the people you are doing work/favours/etc for. Also check out Vicky’s post about Meditation.

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Even the bravest bug-smashers need break time!

 

Paglias, AKA Matteo:

I’ve found it super useful not to work after a certain hour in the evening. It’s improved my sleep a lot and together with trying not to work during the weekend, this has really helped with burnout 🙂

Vicky AKA Redphoenix: Things that are on my short list for burnout recovery:

  • Physical workouts. Running, hiking, yoga, calisthenics, helping a friend move, whatever. This is because the next item on my list is
  • Sleep. Burnout for me frequently manifests physically, and one of the issues is that I start not sleeping well. The point at which I realize I need to pull back a little for sustainability is when I basically lose an entire day to sleep recovery.
  • Non-work blackout times. This frequently self-enforces without my consciously noticing it, but I do try to carve out spaces in my day where I tell myself I’m allowed not to be working. Generally applicable tip: Look for activities where you hit flow state, but are not work-related. Then SCHEDULE THEM IN as a non-negotiable obligation, either by putting them on your calendar, or scheduling to meet with a friend, or pulling together the physical supplies you need to do the thing.
  • A Treat. ideally something out of the ordinary. This doesn’t have to be expensive. My favorite little treats for myself have been: dressing up for a gallery show, trying out a new coffeeshop, sub $5 fountain pens. Occasionally, the Treat has been as small as “going outside where I can sit in the sun for a while”.

Leslie AKA Lemoness:

  •  Pay attention to your own personal burnout triggers. Productivity and self-care are very personal things, and what works for someone else may not work for you. Finding a way to keep track of what does and doesn’t work can be useful in developing your own strategies.
  • For me, I have to be cautious about getting too into the zone with work, to the point where I’ll keep working all night, every night. I can handle a few days like this, but long-term, it’s proven to be a recipe for disaster. The way that I combat this on a day-to-day basis is by setting a designated time where there is a very clear break point to stop working — in my case, dinnertime. Then I have someone who can keep me accountable and prevent me from returning to my work afterwards.
  • The time when I have to be the most cautious is actually during the burnout recovery period, when I start feeling energetic again, but my battery has a more limited charge (so to speak). History has shown that I tend to think, “I’m better! Time to massively overcommit again!” and then REALLY wreck myself. This is the equivalent of injuring your ankle and then, after a week of rest, saying, “Hey, I can stand again! Let’s run a marathon this weekend.” Although it can feel frustrating, like you’re holding back your potential, it is critically important to continue your recovery behaviors for longer than you think is necessary. Otherwise, you’ll be out of commission much longer.
  • Finally, if your burnout becomes a long-term, persistent depression, consider seeking help from a professional. There is no shame in reaching out to a mental health professional when you’re suffering, just as there is no shame in going to the doctor when you have pneumonia.
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Don’t let this guy turn you into an Exhaust Spirit!

Sabe AKA SabreCat:

The “take a break” type advice tends to send me into a spiral of doing nothing / doing only recreational-recuperative things. So rather than step back, I prefer to scale down:

  • Reduce sources of pressure and overwhelm. In Habitica, move things from Dailies to Habits wherever possible, and drink a Fortify Potion to blank out the stressful redness. Swap in low-pressure social activities, like board games, for high-pressure ones, like dinner hosting.
  •  Find a minimum comfortable degree of productivity, and stick to that: the “No More Zero Days” approach. Does working the inbox feel crushing and impossible? Resolve to respond to just one message. Too many dirty dishes? Polish one up and put it away. You’ll almost always end up doing more, but getting started won’t feel so frightening.

Keith AKA TheHollidayInn:

Building small habits of doing work daily helps prevent burnout. Slightly counter-intuitive, but for me building coding, reading, etc in small bits to my daily routine outside the 9-5 helps integrate the flow so that I don’t get the feeling of “Oh, it is 9 o’clock, time to change my mindset completely and work hard on problems.”

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We hope these tips and strategies help you prevent burnout, and help you recover if burnout has already taken hold of you! We’d also love to hear your tips, either as comments here on the blog or in the Tavern Chat! Until next time. 🙂

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.

Behind the Scenes: Habitica at Comic-Con

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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! If you’re on any form of social media and/or are a devoted fan of movies, TV, video games, or comics, you may have heard a thing or two about San Diego Comic-Con over the past few weeks! San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC for short) is a huge event dedicated to geeky pop-culture fun in all its forms. And, as staff members of a productivity RPG and devoted geeks, Habitica’s Lemoness (aka Leslie), Redphoenix (aka Vicky) ,and Beffymaroo (aka Beth) were there to represent. On our agenda: networking, attending relevant panels, our Habitica meetup, and having a good time!

San Diegan Beth happily hosted Vicky and Leslie at her apartment.

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The real head of the household, Beauford, also approved of the guests- especially Leslie.

In addition to providing sleeping and chilling space, the apartment was ground zero for Operation We-Need-a-Banner-for-Our-Meetup.

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Vicky carefully measures out the right amount of Royal Purple fabric, surrounded by Beth’s many miscellaneous craft supplies and, of course, cat toys.
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Beth works on sewing the banner. Note the important supplies: Scissors, pins, a saw, and most importantly, tea.
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Beauford shows off a new accessory she acquired in the banner-making process, the Official Habitica Royal Purple Cat Kerchief™. Official Royal Purple Gryphon Cat Helms™ are still in development.
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Hey look! A banner. Something is missing, though…
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Yeah, that’s the ticket! Thanks to designer piyorii (aka Sara!) for sending us a great Melior stencil template.
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Now to paint the stencil! Note Beauford loafing nearby, showing off her new accessory while letting Leslie and Beth do the hard work.
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After a day or so of drying, the time has come for the big reveal!
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Ta-da! (note that on an official level Habitica does not endorse standing barefoot near cacti, no matter how cute they are)

When they weren’t hard at work preparing for the Habitica Meetup, Vicky, Leslie, and Beth attended a variety of panels and events, some about relevant super-serious business, some about media they enjoy, and some about exciting topics such as cosplay!

One event that Beth, Leslie, and Vicky attended was the Viking Funeral on San Diego Bay to commemorate the passing of a character from the History Channel’s show “Vikings” (no actual deceased people were involved, just a mannequin and a boat). Beth and her partner Mike attended with the Viking Guild they belong to, the Guardians of Midgard, and were lucky enough to be a part of the festivities!

 

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Can you spot Beth?
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A photo Vicky fondly calls “Viking Gothic”
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Meanwhile, Leslie fields important questions.

On Saturday Beth, Vicky, and Leslie scooped up a choice spot at a hotel lobby near the convention for the official Habitica Meetup! What a view!

 

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Staying classy in San Diego, indeed.

We really enjoyed meeting and talking with the Habiticans who attended, so a big shout-out to those who stopped by! We hope that you enjoy your promo codes and gryphon stickers 🙂

Finally, what discussion of Comic-Con would be complete without talking about cosplay? There were an amazing number of talented crafters, costumers, and fans who wowed the Habitica crew with their amazing interpretations of some favorite characters!

 

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Overall, we had a real blast, and we’d love to see some of you there next year at the SDCC 2018 Habitica meetup! Until then, we hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our Comic-Con experience.

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Behind the Scenes: Spotlight on King Manta

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. Today we’re doing something a little different — we’re expanding on the fictional world of Habitica by spotlighting one of the characters who commonly crops up. Enjoy!

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Becoming one of Habitica’s Masterclassers is often described as a “transformative experience,” but for the Master of Mages, the transformation became much more literal. King Manta is currently renowned as the benevolent merman who rules the undersea city of Dilatory, but his life started out quite differently.

Backstory

Born Prince Adamant I of Dilatory, he quickly became known for being a jolly, highly creative mage of prodigious talent, who was constantly weaving together spells in new and interesting ways. One of his most unconventional moves was spending time studying the natural magic of the Mantis Shrimps that surrounded their island city. King Adamant even helped craft new spells with them, including one that transformed him temporarily into a merman. Because of his prowess, he was offered the post of Master of Mages, and he heartily accepted.

Unfortunately, King Adamant was so stubbornly focused on his magical work that he let many of his other To-dos lie neglected. The citizens of Dilatory followed their leader’s example, and soon the streets were laden with Dark Red To-dos. Their bright color attracted an ancient, hungry predator from the deep: the fearsome Dread Drag’on of Dilatory. Its first vicious flurry of attacks struck the cliffs beneath Dilatory, and the entire city crumbled into the sea.

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Hah, that monster doesn’t seem so tough… until you realize that it’s five miles away.

Though all seemed lost, the Mantis Shrimps moved to save the citizens. They combined King Adamant’s transformation spell with their natural magic to enchant the waters around Dilatory so that all the people were metamorphosed into merfolk. Seeing what had befallen his city, King Adamant rallied all of his skill and power into battling the Dread Drag’on. As it chased them into a deep crevasse, King Adamant hurled spells at the monster each time it lunged for the citizens, but the Drag’on’s innate healing abilities left them at an impasse. Realizing that massive reinforcements would be critical to defeat the creature, King Adamant also wove a powerful sorcery that greatly slowed time within the crevasse, allowing years to speed past unnoticed. He triggered the spell to break only when help was available.

And finally, help did arrive. Hundreds of thousands of brave Habiticans rallied together to defeat the vicious Dread Drag’on in battle, freeing the citizens of Dilatory at last. Despite this, most of the citizens of Dilatory decided to remain together in their undersea city, and King Adamant changed his name to King Manta to renounce the stubbornness that had endangered his people and instead honor the Mantis Shrimps who had helped to protect them. He now rules their undersea city wisely, and the Dilatorians welcome the Habiticans into their city every Summer Splash gala. Thanks to King Manta’s spells, Habiticans and Dilatorians can transform back and forth simply by swimming into or stepping out of the enchanted waters.

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Meet some of the many denizens of Dilatory!

Personal Life

Most of the time, King Manta can be found in the throne room of the castle of Dilatory, overseeing issues brought to him by his people. Despite that, his work as the Master of Mages requires him to constantly monitor the underlying magic of Habitica to ensure that it is always growing and thriving, so he has been known to travel all across the land.

During his travels, he often visits the other Masterclassers. He’s close friends with the Joyful Reaper, who is old enough that she remembers him from the ancient times when Dilatory was above the waves. He has also bonded with Lady Glaciate over their shared love of interesting creatures, and was impressed when she managed to single-handedly saddle and ride the Kraken of Inkomplete, leading to a particularly unforgettable round of the Dilatory Derby.  His relationship with the April Fool is akin to that of an amused grandfather, and he often assures everyone that the lad means no harm. The astute have tartly noted, however, that his domain in Dilatory is the one area of Habitica that is mysteriously unaffected by any of the Rogue’s magic pranks, almost as if not a single spell is able to take hold.

King Manta is known to dote upon his adopted daughter Advantageous (known as Adva for short). He frets about her too, however, particularly after the frightening incident when she was mysteriously possessed. She has shown a burgeoning skill at magic herself, and he hopes that someday she will be named the Master of Mages after him.

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Adva is much nicer without that cursed necklace!

When he’s not consulting with his Mantis Shrimps or inventing exciting new spells that test the limits of magic, King Manta can be found curling up in Dilatory’s enchanted underwater library with a good book. “Luckily, I had waterproofed the entire collection,” he’ll explain to anyone who asks. “Actually, they’re also enchanted against fire, mold, pests, thieves, stabbing, and even inappropriate citations. Frankly, you could wield them in battle! But please don’t.”

We hope that you enjoyed this month’s spotlight! Read more about the other Masterclassers of Habitica here.

Behind the Scenes: Habitica House!

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!

Some of you might remember that last year the Habitica Staff took a Southern California roadtrip for work, bonding, and a touch of shenanigans. This year, with two new members on staff, the team decided it was time for another get-together.

Staff members came from far and wide. Vicky, Leslie, and Beth, the Californians of the group,  rounded up our more far-flung colleagues: Matteo, from Italy; Phillip from Germany; Alys from Australia; Sabe from Wisconsin; and Keith from Texas!

In two cars (the “fun bagel car” and “the spaceship”) we all journeyed into the desert. We hoped to get some work done, but also to have a good time and bond as a team.

First, we made a stop for supplies. You can see that we kept our priorities very practical.

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Phillip spent much of the retreat in a fearless quest to taste test every possible peanut butter and chocolate product available.
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Alas, the T-Rex cookie jar and the pizza slice pool float did not make the final cut.

Once at the house, we took some time to unpack the sensible items we had all brought for the trip.

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The force is strong with Alys! She’s demoing a cool lightsaber her housemate made!
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Leslie and Beth took the time to personalize the shower curtain purchased for the ladies’ powder room in grand Habitican fashion.
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We perched on the house’s many couches and worked away for the majority of the super hot daytime hours. Imagine, if you will, the soothing sound of eight keyboards softly clicking.
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When discussing exciting new features, things occasionally moved to the carpet. In lieu of toy cars, remote controls served as placement markers!
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We had a meeting with several of our fabulous designers to discuss exciting new features coming to the site and apps! This meeting, however, came to a sudden stop…
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…when the staff spied a road runner on the patio! However, we did not see a coyote in pursuit, nor we did experience the deployment of any Acme products.

Although we spent a lot of time focusing on work, we definitely took time to enjoy ourselves.

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Keith proved himself a worthy Grill Master (as a Texan apparently this comes naturally!) and Vicky introduced us all to the exciting world of grilled fruit.
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We enjoyed the fresh desert air while having lunch al fresco!
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Some team members took a night hike in Joshua Tree National Park! We had a lot of fun exploring the desert with its eerie Joshua trees, beautiful plants, and rock formations.
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This wouldn’t be a proper gathering of Habitica staff members without some silliness. And animal hats are exactly the kind of silliness we appreciate. Beth, Leslie, and Vicky are getting in the mood for the Summer Splash Gala!
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Although arguably Matteo found the best hat. Flying Pig for the win!
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As the retreat drew to a close, we stopped for a peaceful picnic in a scenic canyon oasis.

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All in all we had a wonderful time, filled with jokes, exotic chocolates, delicious food, desert scenery, and great company. You can check out our Tweets and Instagram posts from the retreat for more fun- search the hashtag HabiticaHouse!

Until next time! 🙂