#2. Thou shalt make sure your game actually works.
Bully for the 360, The Orange Box for the PS3, too many others to count.
We're ashamed to even have to include this. This is like having to ask McDonald's to cook the burger before they serve it to you, or having to remind your dentist not to videotape himself slapping you in the face with his penis while you're under. It's the sort of thing you'd feel ridiculous saying.
Yet, here we are, telling the game industry to please only sell us games that function. Some sins that have been committed against this commandment:
Porting games after about five minutes of beta testing.
What's happening here is exactly what we were afraid was going to happen once every console was online (never mind that 30-40% of them still aren't): that they would start following the PC gaming method of using the early buyers as unpaid beta testers. Push the game out the door, wait for complaints, then release a patch later.
So here's Rockstar games, releasing Bully for the 360 and then having to do an emergency patch after it took gamers literally hours to realize it was broken. Over here is Valve (you too?) releasing a broken version of The Orange Box for PS3 and again scrambling to get it patched after gamers started screaming.
Seriously, you guys want to go down the road that PC gaming has gone? Really? Because piracy isn't the only reason PC gaming is dying a slow death. It's because when you mention PC gaming to a casual gamer, the hairs stand up on the back of their neck. They're remembering long, frustrating afternoons downloading patches, eventually deciding that to be allowed to play games on the PC, they had to fucking be Hugh Jackman in Swordfish.
But almost as inexcusable is ...
Releasing games the console can't really run.
Look, we know with PCs it's hard as hell to make sure your game runs smoothly on every system--every PC is different. But you know what's inside an Xbox 360. There no reason, none, ever, under any circumstances, that your game should stutter and slow down because the console is choking on the graphics. This is like selling us an L-shaped condom. You know damned well what we've got to work with here.
Which brings us to ...
This is going to being the Achilles heel of this generation. It utterly breaks the spell of an immersive game to freeze the action while a "Loading ... " bar comes up. This would be like going to the theater and having the lights come up between every scene, so they can put more film in the projector.
This has got to get fixed somehow, and there is no solution on the horizon. Blu-ray isn't better, its worse. You've got the PS3 having to do huge installs of their games on the hard drive (yeah, that's you, Devil May Cry 4), not to eliminate load times, but to keep them under a level that completely cripples the game.
The 360 meanwhile has to spin its disk so fast that it sounds like a jet taking off--you can hear it over the game at times. These disks are like a wheelbarrow full of pudding the console is trying to eat with a straw.
When you sit down to design the next generation of game machines, start with this.