Ten years - that's a bit depressing. Not because of the time, but because we've progressed so little since then. The difference between 1988 and 1998 is gigantic, but games today are barely different than in 1998. Graphics are a bit better, but only marginally. The texture work in Unreal still stands up today. The methods of storytelling have barely advanced, either.
Sounds like a case of Rose Colored Glasses.
I'll admit, Unreal looked good but it's still dated compared to today. But also go back and play Quake 2, even with all of the (stock) Open-GL options turned up. There is a big graphical difference between that and, say, Crysis or Doom 3. The poly-count alone is staggering, let alone the textures and such. Sure Q2 still looked good, but now-a-days that's quite primitive. I think Unreal was an oddity for 1998.
Graphics don't make the game for me and I prefer drawn art to photorealism in games, but the difference is definitely noticeable.
As far as storytelling and such, I agree in regards to RTS games and RPGs. If anything, some probably devolved.
But 1st-person Shooters and other platformers evolved slightly during that time
- System Shock 2 (1999) had a decent method of story telling that was are-used by AvP2, BioShock, FEAR, and a few others. It should be used more, and was (in my opinion) done better than in Marathon.
- Half-Life (late 1998) made the "true 1st person story-telling" method popular
- Riddick was fun, and I enjoyed its story. Though I don't know if its delivery was any new type.
- Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was something new. Beatiful platformer, deeper story than PoP 1 and 2.
Sandbox games (GTAs, Oblivion, etc) are becoming bigger and becoming more fleshed out. There's a lot going on with GTA4 beneath the surface. There's story and depth that wasn't in GTA 1-2.
And more mainstream games are bringing up deeper and more mature plots than before. Some of the (non-RPG) stories actually make me care about the NPCs and such by the end of the game, that NEVER happened to me in 1998.
But the main changes over 10 years are: poly-count, textures, resolution, and violence.This comment was edited on May 19, 15:47.
"Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you."