While the rest of us were lounging off our Thanksgiving dinners, the people over at Gamasutra were busy putting up some interesting articles - including one on the "secret ingredient" of games - the feel of a game. It's an attempt at quantifying that part of game play that is harder to put your finger on than flashy graphics or a killer soundtrack, or even a great control scheme. It's a nice change from a lot of the game design chatter that goes on - it's to the point, a breezy read, and is grounded in more than 'wouldn't it be neat if ...' thinking:
However you describe it, it's hard to deny that the sensation of controlling a digital object is one of the most powerful — and overlooked — phenomena ever to emerge from the intersection of people and computers.
There are lots reasons for this, but the main one is that game feel is slippery. It's mostly subconscious, a combination of sights, sounds, and instant response to action. It's one of those 'know it when you feel it' kinds of things. If it's off by just a little bit, a game's goose is cooked. If it's "responsive", "tight", and "deep", it can be magical.
It's a pretty quick and interesting little read, though nothing world shattering - although it brought to mind a number of those incredible games I've fallen in love with over the years (or not), and precisely why that may have been.
Game Feel: The Secret Ingredient [Gamasutra]