I hate bumping this thread for something so stupid, but I don't want to start a new thread to announce this, and it is sort of relevant...
I've been working on improved texture replacement functionality. It originally started out as a performance tweak, but since I had always wanted to fix the short-comings with that code, I just took it all the way. The current texture replacement functionality had serveral issues: 1) it only worked for the base maps, it couldn't change glow/spec/normal maps at all, 2) it wasn't as efficient as it could have been, 3) it's application was limited to per-mission use.
Issues 1 & 2 were addressed in the same manner. The code now keeps track of the full set of textures, a combination of the originals and any replacements, and can quickly and easily pass those around to be rendered. The same texture loading function works for these extra texture sets, so it will easily handle a new base map and automatically load up the respective glow/spec/normal map to go with it. This also works with "-amb" and "-trans" textures, allowing you to quickly and easily get the same level of control that you would have by editing the POF itself.
Issue 3 was solved by adding an extra level of texture replacement, through ships.tbl. So say that you have the Fenris and Leviathan, both of which are the same model, but the hi-poly versions are different POFs in order to get different textures. With texture replacement you can use the single POF and just change out the textures by default every time the ship is used. This works in mission as well as in the lab and techroom. It's essentially the same as using two POFs, except you save a good bit of system and video card memory by not having to load up an extra POF. The normal mission specific texture replacement works on top of this, so you still have full control of how the model will be presented in-mission.
The ships.tbl level texture replacement is mainly just to help out mods which already have multiple tbl entries, with the same basic POF, just to get a different set of default textures. The new texture replacement code will now allow you to just have the one POF, and use texture replacement to change the default textures for those ships. I already use this myself for the Fenris, Leviathan and the Cain, Lilith ships, allowing the use of the same POF but still getting the different texture sets that we are all used to. The texture replacement usage is the same in ships.tbl as in missions. So just make use of the same "$Texture Replace:" setup than you are used to, putting it after the POF filename specification in the ship tbl entry.
This new code will start showing up in builds starting next week, and will be included with 3.6.10. Hopefully it will be of some help to various modders and model makers out there.