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Scalable games

Hey people,

	I'm developing a 3D game engine myself and today I was discussing
minimum hardware requirements for the game with one of the designers.
Thing is, he asked me if we could make the engine make some decisions
based on the current machine's performance, in order to improve
efficiency. Things like, for example, if the engine works with discreet
LODs for meshes, if the polygon count is running a bit high, why not cut
off the more high detail levels and just work with the lower ones? This
is, of course, a very simple example, but you should get the idea.
	The idea is to go beyond just switching features on and off and instead
make the engine more aware of it's surroundings and thus more adaptable
to changing workloads and running conditions. What do you think of this
matter? What are your experiences or ideas for scalable engines?

Miguel A. Osorio.