Wing Commander fans were happy to debate this. We cited missions, mythological concepts and talked about the evolution of space sims -- it was Freespace idiots who started raging about the dynamics of the debate instead of making any kind of counter-point.
You have to earn respect -- if it's something we hand out as to any idiot with a gmail address in the interests of being polite, it's not worth a dime in the first place. A heck of a lot of people have earned my respect for arguing wth me -- people like Quarto... they sure as hell didn't get it by whining about how I conduct myself or demanding that I accept their ideas immediately. They made points.
Loaf- Read my above points. You don't have to accept my ideas or line of reasoning if you choose not to. If this is an honest forum for intellectual debate about space sims, then attacks on one's character in place of arguments based on logic (also known as ad hominem attacks) have no place. I reiterate my position that it should be common courtesy to not greet people who don't agree with your view with insults- that is a civil level of respect, one that people shouldn't be required to earn.
Quarto- I agree that Freespace fiction does need better fleshing out, but, IMO, WCP (and any subsequent sequel) really need to step up the gameplay, in addition to having great fiction. There is a good argument that you shouldn't have fleet battle missions, reinforcements, etc. every single mission, and I agree. However, my biggest gripe with WCP in that regard is that these options aren't even available without extensive use of cutscenes and/or heavy scripting! FS2 is still capable of small scale scenarios w/o capship battles, special weapons, or reload shuttles. WCP is not capable of these extra features. However, this misses the point of one of my posts from a bit earlier in the thread... I'm not saying FS2 is the answer to the space sim dilemma, I think that gameplay-wise, FS2 is a step in the right direction, but not ultimately what is necessary to succeed in today's market. Honestly, gameplay-wise, what I would like to see is almost a space-sim incarnation of something like a strike force in C&C Generals or any other RTS game worth its salt- specialized units that work in tandem with each other and don't require heavy scripting to function- at most setting the overall goal for the various units in each mission, but then funnelling most of the development costs into making really good AI that can function with some discretion within that light scripting. Combine that with some good fiction (which admittedly is difficult with the possibilities raised by light scripting), and frankly, I wouldn't care if the graphics looked like they came straight out of the original X-Wing.
(To be fair, I don't think there has been very much original in game play for video games in general since the mid-90's- game developers have focused far more on eye candy, movie tie ins, and reiterations of successful franchises then on new content (console games are really, really guilty of this, but so are PC games)
Last, if I had to hazard a guess as to why space sims are currently not in vogue, I would argue that it's the extreme reluctance of any space sim to get away from the whole "WW2 in space" deal. It invokes the same issues I raised earlier- I think that technological barriers prevented anything really more then that when WC1, 2, and perhaps even 3 came out, but that is no longer the case, and there are only so many iterations of one theme the gaming public can take before getting tired of a genre in general for a while if no real innovation is introduced. (For example, I suspect that this is going to happen to WW2-based FPS games within the next year or so)
I think there are options available to revitalize space sims (e.g. tactically-driven battles, dramatically increasing fighter speeds/manueverability, heavily developed AI, adding strategic elements ala Armada, combo maneuvers with wingmen (for instance, having wingman AI or commands that would allow for a wingman to lead an enemy into your gunsight), making the bulk of your ammunition expendable, but more deadly, (making resource management more important) etc.)- it's just a matter of someone willing to go out, take a risk, and try their luck.
Last, I just want to reiterate that WC (including WCP) is one of my favorite franchises, and I would like nothing better to see it take off again!