I'm actually quite curious what the lot of you think about this subject, because, in the end, this is the most important thing that imho makes a hit out of a game - it's a trump card in the indy developer's sleeve, by which he can outshadow far bigger competitors... So, what does make one game a good game?
I've been thinking quite a lot about this one, and while every genre by itself is by definition hated by some, and loved by some, i think the mechanics make the biggest impact on the gamer's experience and satisfaction. Keeping it simple, expanding along the learning curve and making it random enough to keep a player interested is obviously a one way to go about things: games like Torchlight have used this strategy to great extent. Enough roguelike to make people replay and replay, and simple enough to attract the general population, Torchlight has made its way into the hearts (and pockets) of many players worldwide. Obviously, hardcore roguelike lovers will argue that this isn't turnbased, very VERY simple and that it's only got 3 characters, but the main idea is to take what is brilliant from one genre and succesfully implement it in another. This is also worth considering.
Implementing new, never-before-seen mechanics, ideas and insights has always been an advantage of an indy developer, and i think we should hold this advantage firmly within our grasp. Still, this has an issue worth addressing: we need to keep it interesting, new and FAMILLIAR. If people see the idea as too abstract, many will be repulsed by it, thinking it has a steep learning curve, or that's impossible to enjoy or see what is actually going on. So we need to think about that too..
Anyway, these are some of my insights and i'd love to see what you guys think makes a great game. I think this discussion will help us all make good games that people will love to p(l)ay.