To fully replicate the smoke trails from the show, it'll require the use of Pspew in weapons.tbl to drop smoke bitmap particles. We're currently using regular trails which IMO is an ugly solution since smoke is a volumetric phenomenon which is best represented by a billboarded screen oriented quad, not an oriented quad facing away from the viewer.
The problem is that there are so many projectiles flying around in the missions; Raiders firing nukes, Vipers firing dogfighting missiles, batteries shooting from both the Tessie and Sabazius, Basestars (The worst offenders) liberally flinging out so many missiles that we're hitting the object limit... I did experiments with this and the particle subsystem ballooned to 180ms to calculate it all which came out to 5 FPS. Absolutely ridiculous.
It might be better with the go_faster changes since particles are no longer drawn in immediate mode and use glDrawArrays. But really even with just our models, we're still over a reasonable frametime budget. So stitched trails we use.
It's funny that you question how much of a BSG fan I am based on this issue when particle smoke trails are something I really wanted in this game and heavily investigated in the graphics code. I even plan on optimizing particles even more sometime, perhaps using the draw_instanced_EXT extension in the OpenGL 3.0 spec or use dynamic vertex buffers for batched quads or maybe even engineer a GPU-based particle system.
So yup, you called me on it. I'm not a very big BSG fan.