Now I'm also collecting nice thoughts on game design. Feel free to share your own ideas, or rant about anything game-design wise.
some funny gimmicky feature that has no effect on the gameplay, its surely impressive and not a simple "retexture" but its still the same game you had played many times before, but now you can maybe change between two forms, or use some kind of a heat vision to see you enemies, While both features are quite graphically pleasing and quite innovative if never used before, they are still useless for the gameplay itself. that is where the word "innovation" fails to keep up with gaming, lots of ideas can be innovative and original, but that doesn't mean the game is not the same thing all over again.
As an example i would maybe use the game Singularity, which was basically an FPS with a time control element, it looked great, it was fun, it was original, but in reality the time controlling mechanic was just a gimmick, you used it like twice in the whole game to actually affect the gameplay, for the rest it was unnecessary, mostly to cover up that its yet another monster killing FPS.
This is a good point. Simply having an original mechanic or story doesn't make a good game. Especially when it's a gimmick that disguises an otherwise cookie-cutter experience. Creating a compelling and well-integrated game that has its own unique feel requires that skilled and creative people be allowed to actually practice their craft rather than forming part of an assembly line churning out Zombie Ops 8. But then we swing back around to the problem of getting publisher funding, etc.