Kal once again you say many wise things. on a side note, another thing that i read in the same pc gamer made me smile. He who shall not be named is no longer making pc games, and is going to focus on making Xbox 360 owners cry..... i mean make games for them. Heck, simply with him leaving the pc the average quality of games just went up a few points. hopefully the next guy who takes up his well intentioned renegade developer chalice will posses the drive to make a great game as well.
more back on topic, i think that we've progressed technologically enough to support BoE situations, and generally more intense combat environments. the Space sim basically needs a game like Half Life. before half life, FPS's where basically all the same. you shot at things that kept coming at you. The Space Sim is essentially in a rut. you always do the same things. i think half the games recently released follow the Privateer route...Freelancer, the X series, Darkstar One, etc. The other half follow the Wing Commander route...Freespace, X-Wing/Tie Fighter, Starshatter, Tachyon, etc. The only real sub genre to them seems to be I-War, namely cause of its newtonian physics, but otherwise is like Privateer.
So, what can be done to break the mold? I personally really want to play a game that essentially is Grand Theft Starship. make it a seamless world with a great plot and controls that work well in flight and on ground... thus far Breed, Halo and Unreal tournament are the closest we get, and none of them do the space sim part well.
any other great ideas?