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[dupe] HabitRPG – A free habit-building app that treats your life like a game (habitrpg.com)
70 points by phreeza on Aug 31, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments

I've been using HabitRPG on a daily basis since April and overall I find it useful. Things I like:

- by far the thing I like the most is the streak counter on the dailies. It's quite rewarding to see you've done your morning light workout 120+ days in a row -- there's just no chance that you are gonna break that chain just so that you nap 10 more minutes!

- low management overhead - I usually spend 1-2 minutes on the website

- character gamification: getting random food and pet drops and critical chance for gold rewards; upgrading items with that gold -- all of these are completely useless :) but even so, these things do give you a tiny mental push to do that extra remaining task. Health and Experience points have similar effects -- I've had days where my character was low health and it was getting towards the end of the day (you lose health if you missed some dailies), which made me consider whether I could quickly achieve one of the remaining tasks

- distinction between daily tasks that are a 'must' and habits that are 'nice to have' but I don't want to do every day.

I don't use the social aspect of it, so I cannot comment on that.

Same for me. There is no way that I'm going to break my 96 streak in "cleaning up kitchen after kids breakfast", so my wife can reliably find the kitchen clean every day and I have a routine to start the day productively rather than going through Reddit.

I can't quite see why this type of thing is so in favour at the moment. I also find it slightly disquieting (although admittedly that's got a lot to do with episode 2 of Black Mirror - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Black_Mirror_episodes ).

It just seems like an unnecessary abstraction of willpower - if one already doesn't have the willpower to (for example) limit one's drinking, what is a cutesy game going to bring to the table? I mean, what's to stop me adding "smoke five cigs" or "drink an extra beer" to the list of habits in this particular example?

If you only have a limited amount of willpower wouldn't the best idea be to wield it in the most effective manner possible? The app just gives you some tools in order to help you be more effective, it is still up to you to use them.

You are forced to come up with a concrete implementation intention. Instead of thinking I'm fat maybe I should exercise you are forced to come up with an actionable item. Jog at least 15 minutes after work on Tuesdays, make garden salad for dinner Thursdays. Through the course of playing the game you end up with metrics that you can use to further help yourself. If you are failing a task every time maybe consider that you set the bar too high to start and you should get back to basics. Likewise you can look and see in concrete terms how much progress you are making. Thinking about smoking a cigarette? Now you thin is it worth breaking my 3 day streak? A small nudge to be sure but sometimes that is all you really need.

The gamification aspect is brilliant. Increasing those imaginary numbers just feels good. Getting gold that can be used toward rewards that you previously committed to helps from making silly in the moment rationalizations. Well I parked my car further from the mall instead of finding a close spot that extra exercise earned me the right to eat this whole chocolate cake. Instead you are confronted with the best version of yourself who was not currently smelling chocolate cake. On top of all that the framework gives you room to fail. If you really need to smoke that cigarette it is OKAY. Those 10 hit points of damage are not a big deal just as long as you don't do it every day.

It's certainly better than the people who make new years eve resolutions. This is the year I'm going to exercise every day, start eating healthy, finally finish reading all my volumes of The Art of Computer Programming, start volunteering at a soup kitchen and finish that side project I have been working on for the past 2 years.

Think of it as a sort of prosthesis. Those of us with ADHD, for instance, have a sort of short-sightedness when it comes to time. Things like this can help by reinterpreting our lives a series of short-term actions that have immediate consequences, rather than actions that have consequences later on (which we are effectively blind to).

One thing I have found vital is keeping track of what I'm doing each day: productive hours, weight lost/gained, etc.

I personally find when I know these things, it's much easier to not kid myself into how well I'm doing, and what changes I make are improving matters.

I'm not sure how much building a game on top of that helps, but I think the basic concept of tracking is important and if this helps people accomplish that, great.

> It just seems like an unnecessary abstraction of willpower

So is every video game that has cheat codes. Though I don't use these apps, it seems like the same thing. If you play by the rules, it makes the game more fun. In this case the game is chores, which is not supposed to be fun.

I'll put your question into more concrete terms. I've tried this sort of software before. I didn't cheat at it. However, every time I've tried it, after the first month, I usually have several bright red messages indicating how badly I'm failing at life. I then stop using the app, because it doesn't tell me anything I don't know.

The apps all seem to be based on the idea of not breaking the streak. While that's great when you have a streak of successes, it's frustrating when you have a streak of failures.

If you have a streak of failures, wipe the slate clean and start with something smaller and simpler. For severe cases, it might be necessary to start with something as simple as "brush your teeth 1x a day" and NOTHING else. This can seem ridiculously juvenile, but I wasted years of my life making little progress because I thought small things were too trivial to be worth getting good at.

I have about 15 "deep red" ToDos sitting there at the moment. Over a certain threshold, they don't really affect your character very much (you get wounded mostly by failed Dailies and Habits); but when you finally get around to striking one or two off, the satisfaction is immense.

One thing I really like of HabitRPG is the leniency: unlike a lot of similar systems, it's not trying to punish you, but rather to nudge you in the right direction.

It's open source, too https://github.com/HabitRPG/habitrpg

I wish someone would have forked it with a different theme (something like default bootstrap text only instead of the 90's RPG look).

We have deployed HabitRPG at work and use it to manage our sprints.

As far as we know, it's not really free and open source. There is hidden stuff to enable "Diamonds" the item that lets you do every single fun thing in this game.

So we have developped The HabbitRPG Black Market. It integrates into habbit RPG and lets you buy diamonds: https://github.com/titilambert/Habit-Black-Market

I may be wrong and it may just be badly documented.

I am surprised how many of those habit-building apps completely ignore that there is a weekend.

I've been using Commit for a while and - because I am a bit lazy in that regard - committed to tracking my time properly every day (instead of as a bunch after 2-3 days). (I usually keep a note around)

Now, I obviously don't do that on a weekend, but it still breaks my streak all the time, which makes the streak kind of moot.

I have the same issue with GH streaks: I would enjoy if the whole system was more lenient, allowing days off the chore.

HabitRPG allows for breaks in several ways:

* you can mark dailies for specific days of the week, so you won't have to do them every day (although you still can, if you want).

* you can take a "global pause" by resting in the Tavern -- typically used when you go on holiday.

* if you are a high-level Wizard you can cast Chilling Frost, which will preserve your streaks for a day. It's a very expensive spell and will limit damage you do in quests etc, so in practice you can't really use it more often than once a month or so.

* if everything else fails and you know it's not your fault (emergencies etc), at any time you can just restore your streak to what it was.

HabitRPG allows you to pick weekdays on which your daily activities are active, so the weekend is actually covered. What I do miss is having tasks that are weekly or monthly.

Huh? I looked around but didn't find that. Thanks!

Once you create the daily, click the little pen on the right, and the item will expand and show a configuration, with the active days, among others.

Just bought Commit and I'm very disappointed. It's way too oversimplified.

Can you share the url for Commit? I am curious to see what it is...

I quite enjoy "my life" the rpg. I could do without the grinding for items though. Also, my characters appearance is frankly ridiculous and I have failed to find a way of customizing it. I'm starting to think I picked the wrong class to begin with.

There seems to be some recurring popular methods for habit formation and many diffent apps. Each product has its own branding and different twist but the most common themes seem to be (1)"not breaking the chain" (2) precommitments/accountability/public shaming (3)positive feedback of some sort - positive messages or gamification.

This is not a bad set of methods - there is some (varying) evidence to suggest that each of these is effective in improving habit adherence. However, there are loads more facts about habits that don't necessarily fit into this paradigm so neatly:

- Automaticity does not start to level of for a routine until at least a minimum of 20 days for quite a simple task, and it can be many times longer for more effortful tasks (like doing a daily workout). Average was 60 days but with a very high variance (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejsp.674/abstract... )

- A single failed repetition "breaking the chain" does not have any effect on the development of automaticity of the behaviour, only repeated failures tend have a negative effect - It has been suggested that it is much more difficult to try to build multiple habits in parallel rather than serially (although I cannot quite find an authoritative source just now)

- Habits have a structure: Cue -> Routine -> Reward. It is useful to understand the conditions and motivation for a routine before trying to replace it (substitution approach)

- Furthermore, if trying to establish a new habit to reach a goal you might find that there is no intrinsic reward in the routine. It will be very difficult to keep up the routine like that, and it may often be better to look for a different way to achieve the same goal

- Habit formation can in some cases be thought of as a rewiring of the instinctive valuation system. For example a resolution to eat healthily might be helped more by giving yourself more exposure to delicious meals consisting of mainly vegetables, than by a purely willpower-oriented method

For these reasons - I tend now to think "less is more".It should be more about focusing on one or two correct habits and continually reevaluating them than to rely on a plethora of different external motivators to get you to do a dozen different things every day

I just thought I would post this here, I am not involved with the project but I have been using it for a while, and I think it is a very nice example of gamification being used for good. I am not even usually into role playing games but I have genuinely managed to get myself excited about levelling up my character and collecting gear.

Looks very interesting!

One thing:

> If your health drops too low, you die and lose some of the progress you've made.

I think when losing some of the progress, I would just give up on the game. Real life would already be negative, so I wouldn't need something negative to happen in the game as well, so the easiest improvement at that point is to stop the game :).

> I think when losing some of the progress, I would just give up on the game.

I don't think anybody really dies while he's actually playing, in the sense that you can easily salvage your character at any point by just deleting all tasks.

The point of the game is to motivate you into doing chores; a low health bar should give you the motivation to reassess your priorities, get a reality check, and rearrange your tasks so that they can be dealt with more realistically. If you can't do it right away, take a rest in the Tavern and come back later with a better plan and a simpler approach: chuck all the "deep red" items, and start with ONE OR TWO VERY SIMPLE TASKS you can reliably achieve. Once you've got your health back, get more adventurous and start adding hard stuff back in, slowly.

In most RPGs, if you can't defeat a monster, there is no point in immolating yourself; it's better to run, hide, grind out easier enemies, and come back when you've leveled up. The real-life equivalent is a honest reality check about what you can and cannot do right away.

I did not read the article, but a way to counter that is for a motivation boost. Allow the player to make up for it the next day.

From a MMORPG pov you would have just got killed and your loot(progress) would have dropped, you now spawn at the nearest town and have a day to get your loot back or lose it.

And so maybe in courage you to hit the ground running faster the next day, because you know you are dead.

Advertising FB authentication and then telling me in the Android app how I need to copy big strings from a webpage.

Bad UX ;)

As a feedback: the German copy text ... does the job. Someone on the team had German in school? Quick job from fiverr.com?

Graphics and UI look nice and engaging.

Philosophically, I'd consider that our society, our generation is already living way more quantified and optimized than any previous generation: Technology provides the numbers, the internet lets us compare ourselves with the very best at anything.

With this game, you are also holding the carrot on the stick for yourself - Leonardo DaVinci or Elon Musk didn't have to do that - something else made them do what they did.

Without meaning to trash your app entirely, I'd suggest

- focus on that one task that really moves things forward (instead of doing push for secondary points)

- staying alert for the effect of the (self-)optimization - megatrend on employees, children etc.

Being Beethoven [0] is another habit building iOS app. The idea is that you adopt daily habits and rituals from the most effective and creative people in the world. At the moment they have Richard Feynman, Lev Landau, Elon Musk, Bruce Lee, Bill Gates, etc.

[0] https://itunes.apple.com/app/being-beethoven-adopt-daily/id9....

Chains.cc[0] is another tool which on the same lines of making it easier to build habits. It does not have any gamification elements, but it is still a simple and nice app for tracking habits. Wish they had an Android app though!

[0] - https://chains.cc/

They still don't have an Android app? Damnit, I stopped using it because they didn't have one, and that was like, a year ago.

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