I’m certainly no expert, but I have played the Titan Quest demo so I suppose that qualifies me to toss in my two bits.
In a general sense, I think that TItan Quest didn’t get the nominations because the demo, while technically well done, and certainly fun to play, wasn’t flashy. I mean, Hellgate:London has Cabalists sucking psychic energy and causing demons to explode; the WoW expansion has a built-in 5 million fanboy base who can’t wait to make Blood Elves and tell them to /dance; FF XII has … well, plenty of people who live from FF to FF release - Titan Quest has you whacking a pig with a rusty copper dagger (I’m assuming people at E3 played essentially the demo for Titan Quest). So in a sense, I think you hurt your own cause by having a demo which was representative (as opposed to something over the top or something with tons of superfluous spell effects).
Also, if I had to mentally lump TQ into a bin it would of course be the “Diablo Action RPG” camp. The good part about lumping a game there is it’s a popular genre, and you don’t have to spend much time explaining what you’re about. The bad part is that, well, I don’t think the gameplay is gonna surprise anyone. Hold down the Alt key to see loot… shift key attacks without moving… red bar… blue bar… yeah, it’s all here. The fact that so much of TQ appears to be a known commodity works against you getting in any “best of lists” in the same way that technically well done (but conventional) movies tend to not make the best of lists for movie critics (ok, so you can say “why does Hellgate:London make it then, since they’re the same genre?” to which I say: partially because they’re still a ways out, and so people will make allowances for imperfections they see - plus being furher out, that allows for a bit of handwaving by whoever’s manning the booths. And in addition, the setting in HGL is more ‘edgy’ than TQ’s which I think wins them some brownie points).
As for wowing the public (no pun intended) with the product: were you able to show some of the more unique aspects of the game? For instance, were people able to fight some of the Annubi in Egypt (like the movies on the website show)? Did you show off the China setting? Did people have the ability to use the level editor? To me, those are the elements of TQ that could make it shine.
All that said, I think (and hope) Titan Quest is going to sell well. I’m certainly getting a copy, and I have a number of friends who are also. The demo was a great deal of fun and did a good job of showing off the game mechanics and graphics. So while it might not have been the best kind of presentation to get on those “Best of” lists, I think it does a good job of selling the product.
I guess if you boiled it down, Titan Quest seems like the girl next door. When you’re sowing your wild oats, you ignore her and go out with that sleazy chick down the street, but when it comes time to settle down, the girl next door, who seemed really boring a year ago, starts to really appeal. So while people are gonna date all those other programs, I think they’ll be taking Titan Quest home to mom.
Ok, gotta stop, my metaphor-o-tron just broke.