Tech Toolbox: HabitRPG

I will never be able to truly consider myself as well-versed in technology; very few people have seen it all. But I do love searching out the best I can find, and once I find it, I stick with it. In my Tech Toolbox you can find my favorite software, applications, and occasionally gadgets.

HabitRPG, at first, sounds like just another one of those “social gaming” games, a time-consuming “Farmville”, a nerdy pretender’s game (okay, that last one is kind of true), but it’s much more than that.

The land of Habitica is a place filled with the usual; Warriors, Mages, Rogues, and Healers, but it is also filled with dangerous, daunting monsters. These aren’t just any ordinary RPG monsters, because a honest Habitican will never find these monsters simple to tackle; you’re not in a game which some will just find boringly easy. HabitRPG turns your life into a game, and the monsters which you are up against are your bad habits, daily tasks, HabitRPG Tasksand that really long checklist of to-dos. Yeah, so it’s productivity tool meets game. You don’t say.

I like to compare HabitRPG most closely to one of those “social games”–the empire building games, the “Farmville” games, the “Pokemon” type games. All the usual aspects are there; the quests, the monsters, the pets, the equipment, and the social community.

One of the main reasons I keep playing any social game is because of the competitive, level-up nature of them; in the end, all you want is to move forward, gain another level, complete another quest, do better than the other players, and that drive is what keeps you coming back each time you do. And besides, have you ever met a grumpy social gamer? They’re the nicest. (The selfish ones just stay quiet.) Social games, upon zooming out, can seem like a stupid waste of time, but HabitRPG is one I continue to play because of the positive effect on my actual, real life.

Here are some of the aspects of the inside of Habit.

  • You create your enemies, the monsters you battle.
    • Any habit you need help breaking or building? Do you need to be waking up earlier each day, stop reading the sports news
      Quest for soap to get rid of all the dirty dishes!
      Quest for soap to get rid of all the dirty dishes!

      incessantly, or (gasp!) use the soap when you wash your hands? Make a Habit monster, which will attack you upon failure to build it up, or take a blow from you if you can muster up the strength to pick up your sword and swing at it.

    • Need to take out the trash daily, or perhaps just on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Create a Daily. They’ll attack you if you don’t subdue them on the days you have to complete them.
    • Have homework to do, errands to run, or knitting projects to complete? To-Dos can help you siphon that pesky to-do list out of your mind and onto paper–er, turning them into monsters which need…defeating?

      HabitRPG Equipment
      Choose your armor and weapons from the equipment screen.
  • As you tick of the checkmarks on the tasks that are your foes, you gain gold and experience. You can use gold to buy cool armor and weapons for your character from the Rewards store, or perhaps you need to reward yourself sometimes with a TV show or a snack sometime by buying them with gold from the store.
    • In addition to gold and experience, there’s a chance of getting drops when you slay monsters, or getting crits (that’s critical hits for you non-gamers). Especially if you’re just waiting for that one drop, it’s another incentive to check things off!
  • Role-playing games are famed for having a class system, and HabitRPG is no exception. Once you reach a certain level, you’ll be able to choose your class, thus determining what character attributes you wish to focus on improving with your equipment sale options. Each class can further help spur you on based on what most motivates you to keep playing social games–the level ups, the gold hoarding, or perhaps staying alive and not dying.

    The Laundromancer is here to pelt you with dirty clothes!
    The Laundromancer is here to pelt you with dirty clothes!
  • Although they confer no extra benefit, some super cute pets and fierce-looking mounts are in order for you to collect. After finding an egg and a hatching potion via the drop system, you can hatch a pet, which you can then feed with food (also found as drops) to nurse it until it grows into a huge mount! These can be incorporated into your avatar as you like.
  • The entire Habitica population is there for you. An important aspect of a social game is competition found in community, as well as fighting the good fight alongside others who are struggling against the same habits. You can join the talk in the tavern, or align yourself with cooking, music, coding, student life, or even LGBT guilds to find people with similar interests and obstacles to overcome.Stag Battle
    • Either with online-made friends or even those you know in real life, you can create a close-knit party, with whom you can go on boss quests, buff each other’s stats, and have a tight circle in which you can specifically encourage each other to continue killing monsters.
  • There are even challenges in which you can compete against others to claim the most rare of currencies, gems. Once again, competition and high stakes are there to get you to try new things, achieve new goals, or slay all of your dailies.

There’s so much more to Habit, which I can’t possibly detail here, but in summary, it’s an amazing tool which can literally boost your productivity through a very gaming-aspected system.

That’s not to say that Habit hasn’t got it’s flaws, though; what tool hasn’t? Here’s a look at the other side of it all:

  • Habit is a beta-stage open-source project, which means it’s still highly under development. There are plenty of bugs yet to be ironed out, and missing features to be added. If you decide to use it now, you have to work with the fact that stuff just isn’t going to work sometimes.
  • One problem I have with Habit is that the aspect of social games which motivates me most, leveling up, has major problems with its math. It’s definitely some underlying formula which I can’t explain, but many other games which incorporate a sense of leveling up are much more motivating in this aspect. Perhaps it’s only because it takes so much work to level up in Habit that there’s absolutely no celebration when you finally cross that threshold, gruelling in exhaustion.
  • Look through the community guild listings for those with similar interests!
    Look through the community guild listings for those with similar interests.

    I play as the mage class currently, and unlike promised, it is underwhelmingly underpowered. Mages’ strong point is supposed to be a large boost in XP and mana collection, while an extremely buffed Warrior will find much more XP and mana than a mage in all the crits. Perhaps this is only the warrior class being OP (a different but equally problematic flaw), but I’ve lost all hope in catching up to a member of my party who is a warrior.

  • There is a lack of equipment for the stuff-hoarder. Habiticans will very quickly, and I mean very quickly, find themselves out of exciting armor and equipment to purchase. Even now, I am disappointed that I can’t get any new wizard robes or magical staffs. Finding all the pets and mounts does take a while, but it’s more of a grueling task than a quest which has been well-gauged in terms of difficulty and time.
  • As is with most RPGs, it’s a very geeky game. If you don’t really have fun pretending you’re in a fantastical world, it’ll be harder to stare down the ridiculous outfits and large boss penguins without wondering why you’re doing it.
The infamous Snackless Monster has arisen out of the trash lying around!
The infamous Snackless Monster has arisen out of the trash lying around!

Although HabitRPG may not, admittedly, be a suitable tool for the “non-geek”, it sets itself apart from other productivity tools because they provide incentive to keep playing–it’s a game, it’s fun. In a scramble to best your friends, to not die in-game, or be the first to collect all the pets, HabitRPG coerces you into logging in periodically to check up on everything.

Habit is also known for some very drastic and life-changing results. It’s a very encouraging thing to check into the tavern and read a moving story about somebody who has used Habit to turn their entire life around.

So, in total, what do I think of HabitRPG? I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a motivating productivity tool, although only the subset of those who enjoy games (those who don’t would not enjoy it as much). Users also have to be tolerant of the fact that it’s a beta tool, not yet perfected. In spite of all of this, I enjoy using HabitRPG day-to-day, and I hope to be battling monsters alongside you soon.

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Tech Toolbox: HabitRPG

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