On the negative side, I believe RPG development today is hampered by some severe limitations on imagination. With development budgets so high, and the need for so many specialized developers to be involved with any game assets, it's hard to let your creativity run wild. Maybe I'm looking back with rose-colored glasses, but it seems to me that in the "good old days", a free-spirited designer could create, say, a spaceship level in a fantasy RPG! Maybe its anachronistic, maybe it doesn't really help the storyline… but what the heck, it'll be fun.
These days, even though I have a pretty free hand to create any bizarre thing I want, it's really hard to maintain the spirit of crazy fun when I have to involve concept artists, level designers, coders, particle artists, storywriters, and a half-dozen other developers. They have real stuff to do! And after you explain why something would be cool and worthwhile to the tenth guy, you start to lose faith in the spaceship level. Is it worth $50,000? Is it more important than another pass on a critical quest level?… No, I guess not… So, I sometimes get nostalgic for simpler days, when one or two developers could get things done on their own.
It's true that they don't make RPGs like they used to. Years ago, RPGs were an eccentric genre played by gamers who enjoyed spending dozens of hours mapping out dungeons on graph paper while hunched over their parents' home computer. Today's RPG is a flashy, high-definition wonderland complete with shimmering water and stunning sunsets, played on the latest video game console while relaxing on the couch. The differences between RPGs of yesterday and today are remarkable, and somewhere during this transition from floppy disks to DVDs the genre has lost a bit of its integrity.