I hear tell that the Xbox Dashboard is going to be getting an update later this year, and it will make things faster. That is good! Hopefully that means I will no longer get stuck in a frozen guide when I try to rate players between Gears 2 matches. But here are some other things I think we need to see.
Notification options. Currently, you can turn notifications on or off. As Microsoft starts integrating Twitter and Facebook into its dashboard interface, it should take a page from social networking protocol and give users more control over how we want to be contacted. Personally, I’d turn off achievement notifications and announcements of friends logging on, but leave on direct messages and invitations. I dislike being distracted during an immersive game by anything besides an invitation to play some other game (and if I don’t want even that, I’ll make myself appear offline). I know that some players are similarly distracted by achievements, but might still want to see the comings and goings of their friends. It can’t imagine it would take much to offer more robust user control over this.
Sensible navigation. I once wrote a very long critique of the New Xbox Experience’s confusing, disorganized, and bloated interface, and have since commented on how the Web Marketplace demonstrates that more sensible navigation is indeed possible. My comments still stand. And I don’t imagine that Microsoft is interested in taking the focus off advertising, but considering that we are paying $50 a year for access to this service already, is it too much to ask that they not drop us in the Spotlight channel every time we go to the Dashboard?
Customizable sounds. I don’t actually care about this feature, really. I just thought it would be cool if I could change the sound for when you get an achievement to the “extra life” music from the old Sonic the Hedgehog. I’d turn off achievement notifications for most games, but for something like Geometry Wars, that would really get me pumped.