More than two years ago, an "X-Wing enthusiast and hobbyist game developer" by the name of David Esparza Guerrero posted a message on the GOG forums proposing a remake of the X-Wing flight engine that would read the original game's resources and allow it to be played at contemporary resolutions, with modern input devices, and even to take advantage of some of the improvements that were made to the later TIE Fighter and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter games.
To jaded eyes (like mine), the XWVM project might look like the sort of pipe-dream idea that gets kicked around excitedly for a few weeks and then fades into nothingness. But Guerrero wasn't messing around. A few weeks ago he posted 14 minutes of prototype gameplay on YouTube, and oh my, does it look good.
The battle, a recreation of Y-Wing Historical Mission 6: Interception and Capture, isn't as busy or intense as, say, the action in House of the Dying Sun. But X-Wing is a different kind of space sim, from a very different era. Missions are typically big, sprawling affairs with multiple goals—scan this, escort that, capture an enemy ship intact—spread out over large tracts of space, with plenty of room to cruise (and forget what you're supposed to be doing). Battles can get hairy in a hurry, especially when capital ships are involved, but getting caught up in a one-on-one turnfight that just will not end isn't necessarily the kiss of death.
The thread on GOG also contains some fun and interesting insights into the behavior of the game, which Guerrero has clearly spent a lot of time with. In one post from November, he discusses why AI-controlled TIE Bombers don't drop the hammer the way humans would: The enemy "is intentionally held back with artificial limitations" on behaviors like how and when it launches torpedoes, because otherwise the player wouldn't stand a chance of coming out on top.
I'm a little worried that, as it comes to prominence, XWVM will fall victim to the same sort of cease-and-desist wet blanket that shut down the fan-driven Battlefront 3 project Galaxy in Turmoil. It might be possible that its reliance on the original X-Wing files will exempt it from the lawyer's touch, but the difference between importing an old game into a modern engine rather than recreating it entirely is an awfully fine hair to split. Here's hoping it's enough.