Kreilo, you missed the whole point of "technological innovation aside"
Maybe I should have said... It's been about about a decade since id produced a product that wasn't preceeded or suffixed with a number.
Ah. At least one decomposition of a game is into 1) technology, 2) gameplay, and 3) story. I'd say it's pretty narrow to classify just "story" as the place for creativity.
For example, Tetris had creative gameplay even though it had no story. Half-life had a creative story even though it only marginally extended FPS gameplay (NPC's).
I think that decomposition is what people are getting at when they say, "I don't care if id games have a story, they're just fun to play." I agree; I definitely prefer creativity in either or both areas (or more). Thanks for clearing up your point of view, though :).