Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Badge spotlight: Draw-Play 3

Preschool Artist (medium, 15 points) -- Complete level 18.

Today I'd like to post something a little different; rather than talk about badge design principles, this will be a lighter (and shorter!) post highlighting one of the oddities in the Kongregate badge system.

The Draw-Play 3 badge is unique: when it was originally created, it was actually a badge for Draw-Play 2. I reviewed Draw-Play 2 here, but if you don't want to read that review, suffice it to say I was not a fan. Many other Kongregators felt similarly, apparently, and over time the game accumulated a fairly large amount of negative comments and its rating dropped to a pretty low level (I think it was around 2.50, although I don't remember exactly; I'd be hard-pressed to say that rating was undeserved, though).

Rather than, say, try to fix the obvious shortcomings in the game, Eggy, the developer of the game, instead responded by replacing the game with some writing about how Kongregate was full of awful people and didn't deserve his game (again, I don't really remember the exact details, but as I recall that was the general gist). This left Kongregate in an awkward position -- it was the first time that there was a badge on the site which was no longer available (although not the last time; I'll probably revisit this problem in the future).

Fortunately, the time that all of this transpired, Eggy had released Draw-Play 3, a sequel which did in fact improve dramatically on Draw-Play 2, so Kongregate elected simply to transfer the badge over to Draw-Play 3, which neatly solved all of the problems -- Draw-Play 3 was probably deserving of a badge anyway, so this gave it one; people who had already finished Draw-Play 2 didn't have to play any more of the series if they didn't want to; and Eggy got attention for a much better game instead of its worse predecessor.

I am often astonished by how petulant developers can be when it comes to badges. Yes, it's certainly true that badges can often draw negative attention to a game, but badges are still something that mean tens of thousands, at least, of gameplays, and that will translate directly into money for developers. While Eggy's reaction was probably the most egg-regious (sorry), he's far from the only offender; I was certainly disappointed in both TaroNuke (DJManiax) and mastermax (Ultimate Assassin 3) for the way they responded to complaints about the badges for their games.

Despite there being several opportunities since then for Kongregate to employ this solution, this badge remains the only badge to ever be moved in Kongregate's history. Probably the best opportunity since then was Caesary, which received badges but then was pulled from Kongregate for legal reasons; although the possibility of shifting the badges to another similar MMO was suggested many times in the forums, Kongregate declined to do so, for reasons that weren't entirely clear to me. Perhaps in the Draw-Play case the move was fair because it was by a game of the same developer, but moving badges to a game by a different developer could end up being seen as being unfair to one (or both) of the developers. Still, I certainly think it's generally a reasonable solution, and I wouldn't object if Kongregate decided to do this in the future.

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