1. The Engine loads the models just fine. I can take screenshots, if you'd like.
2. This isn't for MCO. It's for the 64 bit version that's being worked on. The developer wanted incentive to port the engine to SIMD and GPU. (he's already ported it to Open GL 3.0, which is almost 8 years beyond DX8, which is what MC2 used.) I don't know about you, but I'd happily take a 64bit, multi-threading Mechcommander 2 build that uses T&L with CUDA GPUs.
I merely gave him one. Now that I know exactly how to import models into the engine, I can redo all the animations using bones and IK in Maya, only using Max as an ASE exporter. (If anyone wants me to explain Magic's adding mechs tutorial a little clearer, let me know. )
3. The engine supports LOD, though no one used it, including Microsoft. This was a mid-ranged model, to bake normal maps to a lower poly model. I should be able to reduce the poly count to about 50%, so 6 or 7k (It's currently sitting at just under 12k tris.) I can easily bake normal, spec and AO maps into diffuse maps. I just never did, as I got frustrated with not being able to successfully import models in-game for 5 years now. I only got a hankering to play MCO again, 'cos I wanted a break from MWO.
4. All of this is done for portfolio work. Now that my son is older, I can focus on getting back in my career field, which was as a modeler and animator.