Community member Howard Day is working on an indie space sim "in the vein of Wing Commander and X-Wing." The ship models look incredibly detailed, and the cockpit view has a pleasing '90s vibe. Wings of Saint Nazaire is being built on the Unity 3D engine, which means it'll run on Windows, Mac, Linux and even some consoles!
There are two reasons for the Sprite-based ship rendering in the game. The first is a desire to emulate the original Wing Commander games. In other words, straight-up nostalgia. The second is that it actually gives many advantages over normal 3d-polygons and textures: You can display as many ships as you'd ever want, You don't need LODs, You can very cheaply show complex lighting, glows, and shadows on every ship, They don't take much more memory than a normal set of textures and model ( the Copperhead 3d model would be 15MB in memory if it was a full 3d model, it's just 2 more at 17mb as a sprite set), The ships will look the same on every systems, and best of all, they feel like the ships from Wing Commander. I should be clear - the choice to do things this way was mine - the progammer agreed, as he also liked the way things looked when done as sprites. As AD noted - we're also doing modern multi-light source lighting on all the sprites. It's super neat to see a ship explode and light up all the floating junk in the scene that you'd just seen floating by the cockpit. It's very cool.
The team has a video up that first shows off some rendered models and then switches to actual combat action around the 1:45 mark. If you have the Unity webplayer plugin, you can play the alpha right in your browser for free.