I have been thinking of this for a while now and would like to share my thoughts and maybe try some things out. I must however start by warning you that my time is fairly limited.
First of all I intend to use the Wing Commander universe map, and I plan to use tradelines as jump routes. Meaning I will spread out the planets far enough to not allow any travel apart from the jumproutes. I also plan to nullify the trade route bonus. I also intend to remove the ground battles and allow all factions to tech up the Imperial way, and move the tech upgrade and space commander to the spacestation. Furthermore I plan to make the battlemaps really large (or scale down ships and adjust statistics) so that you have a lot of maneuvering space as well as long battles (every planet a small campaign)
I will include the Terran Confederation and the Kilrathi Empire. For a third faction I am considering the Border Worlds or the Nephilim. I will see to that when the time comes, for now I just concentrate on the WC1-WC3 timeframe
Terrans will have faster ships with better shields and maneuvering, Kilrathi will have better firepower with better hull and possibly have 3 times the fighters from some ships, depending on balance. I however will base myself on the wcnews
ship databank and the maps found there. But I will leave the Terrans with mostly grey and black ships and the Kilrathi with mostly yellowish-brown ships.
Now for the more interesting part of the ships used by the factions
The techs 1 and 3 add the carrier of WC 1 and 2 respectively, while tech 2 and 4 add the other ships of WC 1 and 2 respectively, tech 5 adds all the ships of WC 3 (but no ships that could be considered superweapons, such as the behemoth)
Carriers supply about 8 squads of light fighters (very fast very mobile weak long range guns as well as light shields and armor) 4-6 squads of medium fighters (fast mobile average shields and armor, as well as much more powerfull medium range guns, possibly complemented with some weak long range guns) and 2-4 squads of heavy fighters/bombers (somewhat slow and not that maneuverable, but with heavy shields and armor and very powerfull short range guns). Bombers may also have several gun turrets, notably weaker than the main guns and bombers naturally carry torpedoes. Also some bombers may fit into other catagories as well and some other crossovers exist as well.
Other ships carry 1-4 squads of light fighters, with 1 squad for corvettes and 4 for battleships.
All ships carry infinite fighter reserves, no destroyable hardpoints, no pop count, if possible a low repair rate (with a limit of say 25%-75% hull depending on the ship). Spacestations will not have a limit on how much can be repaired, but they will not be able to have ship reinforcements (but I might make an exception for the corvette).
Bigger ships will most of the time have better weapons, with the exception of the carrier as it's fighters are the main weapons (though the Bengal class Strike carrier will have powerfull forward guns), still a carrier will not be completely defenseless, but most of the weapons will be defensive anti-fighter guns, not anti-ship weapons, they will also have a problem turning etc. All ships will have more firepower on the front than on the sides and back. However bigger ships have a bigger problem with this than smaller ships, and smaller ships will also have the speed and maneuverability to get to the back of the bigger ships. Smaller ships should be able to defeat 1 class above them when firing their front guns into the rear of the enemy ship. Carrier class vessels should be defeated by nearly all other ships.
Corvettes may be somewhat cheap (comparable to the acclamator in EAW:FOC), but I plan to make a tech 5 carrier cost something equal 2-3 DeathStars in EAW:FOC.
Terran Heroes will be the TCS Tiger's Claw (T1), TCS Concordia (T3) and TCS Victory (T5). I still have to think of something for Blair, though he would have to launch from any of these ships as fighters cannot jump on their own (so you can't buy fighters/bombers on their own, you'll have to build the ship they launch from).
Now on to some things that IMO should improve gameplay, but I doubt if it's possible
Salvage bonus for every destroyed ship, but it has to count for each faction and be always active regardless of planets etc.
Hard non-cheating AI, the AI has to use tactics in order to win, rather than money coming from nowhere, but if it's not in the game already I doubt it can be modded into it.
Firing missile volleys from fighters and balancing it. I know fighters can be modded to fire missiles, but what I want is missiles that can switch targets such as heatseekers that go after another heat source when 1 fighter flies over another (including switching to friendly targets) unguided dumpfire missiles that are completely unaffected by anything you throw at it (but easily avoided by changing your flight path), Imagerec missiles that go after every target of the exact same looks (and switch between them) and Friend or Foe missiles that go after random Foe targets (and switch between them). This also includes different countermeasures to different missiles (but that may be possibly by editing inaccuracy).
Something I do think is possible is that ships beat other ships on their stats, not on damage bonuses (meaning I will remove damage bonuses, but inaccuracy is still a factor)
Considering my limited time I will first try to balance it using the EAW:FOC stock models, before I will try my hand at modelling (something I pretty much suck at and I have yet to find an easy to use modelling tool).
Tell me what you think about it.