Nothing inhibits design more than a closed mind. You could still be working in Doom and there are still literally endless things you could do with it. But whoops, it's old technology, and so we're on to Quake, and beyond; so fast that we've barely even scratched the surface.
Eye candy is the lure. Look at q3a. Hell, look at most of the action game releases of 1999. This has nothing to do with design and everything to do with glitz. Yes, improvements in technologies are good, but not at the expense abandoning game engines like used cars.
I hear you man :) Thanks to Blue for this one.