HabitRPG Revisited: 6 months of Gamified Living

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So I’ve been using HabitRPG pretty much religiously for about a half year now, and it’s changed enough that I thought it warranted a new post to complement my older reflections. The pace of development is brisk, and the amount of content has grown exponentially since its early days, offering a number of new ways to play. It’s worth noting that the team is really receptive to community input, as well. In fact, one of the features implemented in the new subscription plan – the ability to purchase the rarer gem currency using the gold that can be earned in-game – arose in part because of my criticism and discussions with the team. It’s clear that Renelle and his team are committed to folding improvements into the game over time, which makes it considerably more usable, and gives me greater confidence that I won’t likely hit another wall where there’s really nothing more to do.

To those of you who haven’t read my original post, I encourage you to check that out first here.

To bring you up to speed, many of my criticisms from that period are no longer relevant. At the time, the supply of content for ordinary users was easily exhaustible – one could expect to have every piece of equipment in the game in a few months – and there was not very much in-game motivation to play after that point. A common counter-argument to my complaints has been that I wasn’t making use of custom rewards – things like paying in-game gold to watch a movie or go out with friends. While this is definitely a valid way to add life to the game, it’s not very satisfying when I don’t necessarily have the time or money to indulge in a real reward, but do enjoy seeing my pixel dude wearing a fancier hat. Fortunately, as you’ll see below, my play style is now much more feasible and should stay that way for some time to come.

So without further ado, and doing my best not to simply echo their update list, here are my feelings about the game as it stands today.

- The addition of classes is a fantastic way to add personality to your character. It adds some depth of gamification, allows you to think a bit about the kind of person you want to be, and gives you more ways to interact with your party. Furthermore, by virtue of quadrupling the amount of obtainable equipment, it extends the life of the game considerably. I’m still in the midst of picking up gear for my third class, and plan to have it all one day.

- On a related note, the addition of quests gives not only an added sense of cohesion with your party, but also additional incentives to work hard on any given day. Trying to take down a boss character over a period of weeks gives you a sense of more urgent purpose, and gives you something to talk about with your party members. It looks like they’re still massaging out the details of this, but there’s a lot of potential in that concept.

- The development team’s embrace of seasonal content is a neat feature. Limited-time items give you special incentive to complete your tasks by certain deadlines so you can have the special 2013 winter outfit on your pixel dude.

- The addition of mounts adds a whole new layer to pet collection, since you can now feed your pets until they grow big enough to ride on. The only shame part is that neither pets nor mounts affect your stats in any way, but they’re still a nice diversion, and I suppose the stat effects might be added someday if people ask for it.

- The subscription plan for monetization just launched this morning, and I think it’s a vastly superior alternative to buying gems outright. For a fairly manageable $5 a month, you get a few nice perks including the ability to buy gems with gold, which addresses the biggest problem I had with the game a few months ago. Now it’s possible to actually earn, through your habits, basically all of the content in the game. I’m still jealous of the folks out there who have special kickstarter and contributer gear, I’ll admit, but there is a vast wealth of material available for the rest of us, making it considerably easier to forget that we’ll never have a cerberus pet or a steaming demon sword. With the continuous addition of content for quests, however, there’s no telling what the future holds – we may someday hope to have at least watered down versions of those sorts of things depending on the direction the developers go.

- Another simple change: It’s now possible to purchase a “rebirth.” I’m not sure what carries over when you reset your character that way, but in theory it allows you to start from scratch and experience the thrills of improving from a simple person in a t-shirt to a badass wizard, warrior, etc. all over again. For people like me who are primarily motivated by in-game growth, this effectively fixes the problem of maxing out our characters and having nothing else to do.

- In the interest of balanced review, I should say that the game mechanics still aren’t perfect, and I imagine some of the character skills will be getting adjusted in the future to improve playability (for example, one of the rogue skills yields entirely too much gold for its own good), but it’s easy enough to avoid problems with these. In my opinion, you’re only ever cheating yourself if you cheese the system. After all, there’s really nothing stopping you from giving yourself points for playing candy crush and eating potato chips, so there are some ways in which the game is only useful if you’re committed to the spirit in which it was developed.

In short, I’m satisfied with the game and impressed with the direction it’s going. I was also duly impressed with the team’s attitude and their openness to input, as evidenced by my being invited to discuss their subscription plan strategy after they read some of my thoughts on the previous blog entry. I know this will probably become more difficult as the size of the user base increases, but for the time being it seems that the core developers are very interested in adapting to what the players want, which gives me confidence that the platform will continue to improve and is well worth throwing a few dollars a month at.

 

 

 

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