I haven't had the time to finish writing the MMNG post I want to write, so here's a simpler post about something else entirely.
Some of my very old readers might remember I occasionally posted about pacing. When I watch a movie or play a game, pacing is one of the most critical elements. A poor script can still be an excellent movie if paced well, and an excellent script can be turned into a worthless movie with the wrong pacing.
Pacing isn't solely the director or the writer: it's a bit of each. So, it's very hard to get the pacing in a movie or game right.
When it does go right, you know it. Something clicks. System Shock II. Lost in Translation. Young Frankenstein.
Of course, not everyone feels the same way about all pacing. Chances are, you hate some of the things other people consider very well paced. That's because there's more than one kind of pacing, and people have different preferences (and often, their preferences vary by mood).
Blade Runner is running in the other room. Blade Runner has exquisite pacing. But the pacing is similar to that of a three-toed sloth with no arms. So how can the pacing be considered good, when it is so slack?
Imagine a more tightly paced Blade Runner: put some strings or drums in the action scenes, trim some of the many slow sections, maybe add some snappy patter. What do you end up with? Suddenly, it becomes cheesy.
But because Blade Runner is paced more like a National Geographic documentary than a sci-fi movie, it has a weight to it that you don't get with tighter pacing. The pacing in Lost in Translation gives it a rather etherial feel - if you don't feel sleep deprived when you begin watching it, you'll feel sleep deprived by the time the credits come up.
So, I don't think there's any "global formula" for pacing. But there are some heuristics: you have to decide what kind of feel you want the pacing to give you. Hard or soft? Fast or slow?
Regardless of what you choose, and what medium you're working in, pacing is always going to be a critical element. Whether you're programming a game or writing a novel, pacing is often what makes good good and bad bad.