Ideas for a new POF format:
Support for translucent & transparent textures. (Imagine a space station with a big interior hanger bay and some "windows" through the hull. Or a station with a hydroponic garden.) And undoubtably more uses I've not thought of.
Support for a mirror texture maybe? "The beam cannon that turns corners. You see, it hits this giant mirror over here, bounces off and hits that mirror over there..."
Fake turrets. Ability to have fixed direction turrets that don't need seperate submodels, a cross between gun points, turrets, and subsystems for ships where you want to have more turrets then would work well on the engine. They wouldn't increase poly count, as they'd be built onto the model, and wouldn't need a very advanced AI. (And probably no destroyed texture either.)
Better control on exactly how a subobject is able to move (so turrets won't fire through
Maybe bay subsystems/subobjects for use with escape pods that will be launched when hull == 0 or when told by a script?
Expandability: A POF section that could contain data which would be ignored unless run under a game engine that understands that data. For future expandability.
A version string so if upgrades are made later the engine can tell what features a particular POF file supports and how it expects things to work.
Multi-axis rotation support for submodels, including but not limited to turrets.
More a table thing then a POF thing I think, but:
Special class flag "any" or "any_weapon" to allow a ship to equip any kind of weapon regardless of it's class. And vice versa (if there's a turrets.tbl for the seperate POF idea) to allow a weapon/turret to be equipped on any ship.
More a FRED2000 thing, but support for multiple fighter bays per ship, and a better memory when using them so you don't have to keep re-assigning a wing to a fighter bay when you bring up that wing in a wing editor.
Thoughts on other ideas:
Docking port turrets: Sounds inefficient, see below.
Seperate ship/turret POFs with tables: cool, same customizability as docking port turrets and less work for ship builders who don't want to make custom turrets/weapons.
Models with moving/animated/script replacable subobjects: Awesome. :>
Whew. That got a lot bigger then I expected when I started. Maybe some of it will be doable and interesting enough to consider.
Edit: Dropped one little )