The big offenders are the likes of journals and quest compasses planning our routes for us. These have been more for "player convenience," he says, but it waters down the RPG experience.
However he's got some real good things to say about consequence of choices and fully voiced characters, with have risen in prominence since Knights of the Old Republic.
"I'll say the "advances" have been more for player convenience, sometimes good, sometimes bad, in my opinion," Obsidian's Chris Avellone when asked about the most important advances in RPG.
"Journals, quest compasses that point directly to the goal and show you the route, auto-maps, etc. are helpful; at the same time, I think it undermines the thrill of victory and discovery and a lot of what makes an RPG an RPG (exploration, notably). In terms of non-interface elements, I feel the idea of morally gray choices and more focus on actions and consequences has been great for RPGs across the board."
"Lastly, fully voice-acted characters has been something to adapt to since Knights of the Old Republic 1, and the amount of localization, recording and audio work that requires is substantial, but I feel it's a net positive for the player."
Obsidian Entertainment developed Knights of the Old Republic 2, a direct sequel to BioWare's RPG. Avellone likes that the defining characteristics of an RPG have spread out to other genres.
"I enjoy the fact that role-playing game mechanics are bleeding into other genres, and the "genres" aren't as clear-cut anymore – developers are seeing the worth in customization, leveling, dialogue, choice and reactivity and other elements that would normally be considered RPG mechanics and introducing them into multiple titles," he explained.
Right now Obsidian is working on their hugely funded, an iso-metric party-based RPG.