It's not a requirement no, but it is one more thing that can enrich the player's experience and when the surprise and revelation is gone the player's experience is arguably the less for it.
I dunno, campaigns like JAD prove pretty decisively that a well-done mission or gameplay element is a lot more important than one more bunch of polygons that blends in with all the rest we've seen over the past ten years.
Again, it's not about how important something is. It's about whether something has value and whether the campaign as a whole would have less value without that element. So if revealing a ship within the framework of a campaign has value, then saving the reveal until the campaign itself would increase the value of that campaign.
As a parallel example. Take War in Heaven. For the final climatic mission, did you release a screenshot of the opening view prior to the release of the campaign? Or did you save that visual backdrop for players to experience within that framework. And if the composition of a mission has value, then why not would the composition of an individual ship as well? By the way, I really really hope your answer is "no, we did not release teaser screens of the final mission".
Agreed that an asset dump would be a bad move. It was the right choice for MT (albeit a disheartening one), but BWO is a complete mod and MT was maybe half way there.
Is there proof of this sort of thing actually happening? I know there have been more than few model dumps and I know that once in a while someone will pick up a ship and finish it
The Karuna, Narayana, and Sanctus have all been re-done or are being re-done post WiH release. Voice acting is being coordinated by someone who is not a member of the BP team. To the best of my knowledge, the BP team has never actively recruited new members--they're simply as open with their development process as they can be without giving away important plot points, and people come to them with anything they think might help. The team then takes the stuff that actually does help.
We're not talking about post release. The proposition was for BWO to release their assetts in hopes that someone would pick them up and improve upon them so they could be HTL for the release of BWO. Which, is not going to happen. There's more chance of them being updated in a organized, internal matter rather than just releasing them and hoping something comes from it. And frankly I don't know why HTL BP ships are being redone after the mod has already been released. Either the original ship lags the computer, or someone really wants to put their thumb print on a popular product. Which, in my opinion is pretty sadly self-serving. While I have been vocal in some criticisms about WiH, none of those criticisms ever focused on the ships which were by and large fine and dandy.
But yes if BWO were to release the mod as is with retail models and if people after the mod release decided they really liked the campaign and wanted to make the models fancier then that would be cool. Though, as suggested above I hope that anyone who undertakes such an endeavour is doing so for the good of the players and not the good of their own ego.