The 7 Greatest Features In Games

It depends much on the player what kind of features they like in games. Some people prefer to advance levels as fast as possible while other gamers might simply enjoy scenery. I started pondering what type of elements I like to see in games and compiles a list. As a result, here are the top 7 features I like in games.

#1 – Slow-motion
I first saw this in Max Payne and it was awesome. It wasn’t just an effect trick but something you could actually use in your favor. It added to the gaming experience. I learned from this and actually used slow-motion in one of my own game prototype and it was really fun. Something definitely worth trying.

#2 – Shadows & lights
Shadows and lights are not new in games. The trick is to use these elements so that they actually add something to the gameplay. I liked how Half-life used them, and I also liked what Alone in Dark did with them. Both of these games managed to use lights and shadows to create an exciting atmosphere.

#3 – Destructible scenery
Oh yes, definitely a feature I like to see in games. It’s simply fun to destroy stuff in games. Hulk game used this feature pretty nicely – and I’m sure there are lots of games that did even better. Nevertheless, smashing things in games can be fun.

#4 – Physics
Another really fun feature or element in games. Some games even base their sole gameplay for physics. Even if the game doesn’t rely on great physics it can use physics to enhance the player’s experience. You can benefit from physics in many ways – like using realistically colliding boxes or bouncing billiard balls. Anything to make game feel more realistic.

#5 – Particle fire
Particles are quite common in today’s games (show me a 3D game that wouldn’t have particles), but I must add that by using particles to create fires and smoke is simply something I enjoy. I remember in the past when I was messing with Abyssfire game (R.I.P.) and tested the game with couple of my friends. My goblin character had a torch and I could have just spend time watching the torch fire particles… there was something strangely relaxing in it.

#6 – Reflecting & transparent water
Water. I’m a water fan. I’m like a thirsty traveler in desert who sees an oasis, when it comes to water in games. Whenever I see reflecting or partially transparent water in games I’m sold. I can’t help it. I just enjoy seeing great looking water in games. (And in real life too).

#7 – The tiny details
I like to see features that might not necessarily have much to do with the actual gameplay, but these features are something that make the game look polished. They can be like birds that fly on the sky. These tiny details can be random different animations shown for idle characters. They can be small details in textures… any feature that makes the game feel polished. I pay attention to these.

Now you’ve heard some of my favorite features in games, and it’s your turn. What are the 7 greatest features in games you enjoy most?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Terrible, these things are meaningless in the whole scope of what a game needs, all this is is mostly graphical tweaks that have little effect on how good a game is….therefore, AUTHOR IS A NOOB

  2. Ohhh yes, Day of the Tentacle is one of the most amazing games ever, and the “three different times” thing was so crazy and innovative! I loved it so much… and WHY aren’t there new games like that around anymore… seems like everyone’s getting rid of good humour.

  3. One thing came straight away and that is the time use in Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle. Past, present and future. Cutting down a tree in the past makes it go away in the future. Leaving messages in bottles to send stuff in the future.

  4. Oh and Nathan – MasterPlan.com did not open for me :(

    Greg – well, partially yes. Some of these features might be crucial for the gameplay (like shadows in Thief).

  5. Toaster: yeh, good point. Thief certainly did a good use of shadows/lights AND also with the voices. I liked how the guards talked… but perhaps I liked HL & AITD more and chose those instead.

  6. I’m surprised that you haven’t listed Thief in your Shadows and Lights category. It was unique in making use of shadows to actually hide from NPCs (not just for decorative purposes). Thief was also the only game I know of that used sound as a crucial part of its gameplay.

  7. Shameless plug: Master Plan is a student project that features pretty good physics and a fully destructible environment. It’s free to download.

  8. Features..? Seems like this Game Producer is ignoring *Gameplay* Features and chose instead to list the technical ones.

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  10. The game has to be fun, thats all.
    A game with intentional old 2D retro graphics and sound can be more found then most modern AAA titles. A game such as cave story if you heard of it.
    A more detailed explaination would be, giving the exact right amount of challenge, progressing and rewards in a game.
    Challnge is a major factor, you want to always progress in the game without dying too much and restarting, but you also want to feel that you play good and you overcame a difficult challenge.
    Rewards and a good story/atmosphere that draws you into the game is also important. Here the graphics elements may take part, but good graphics isnt necesseraly 3D, it can be 2D with very good and cute art work and artistic value.
    There must be more to say about this. but this is enough for me, for now.

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