Spring is BA. BA is TA. TA is 13 years old.
13 years ago RTS weren't as pretty as now.
The effort of indiviual like Azaremoth or SpikeHelmet are irrelevant 'cause, like you quoted, they aren't TA. Any effort to make better models still TA inspired are doomed as well, cause if they were pretty, then they wouldn't the same!
So BA Spring is, and will be, ugly. There is nothing you can do about it, except opening up to other ''games''
I'm not quite sure even the best looking Spring ''games'' can compete with the prettiest 2010 RTS release though. But at least they'll only look half as old as the TA stuff.
While Spring ''content developpers'' should of course aim at the best graphical quality attainable, it's unlikely they could run up with commercial title anyway. Instead, other mean of differentiation should be seeked:
- Better gameplay! Gameplay is ill defined, so it's easy to claim your games has a better one. It works even the shittiest indie games to clamor better gameplay and then have everything else excused.
- Better interface! If we undestand "better" in the sense of "more powerful" instead of "prettier", then Spring has an interface that was and still is ahead of the competition. Try building on the strength instead of rehashing the weak points.
- Moar content! The average *A game has way more units in the tech tree than your regular commercial RTS (not counting those with parts you assemble.) You've got air, sea, underwater, hover, walkers, tracked, each with not one or two representant, but a whole factory buildmenu of it, and then it's doubled by having L1 and L2. Instead of reckoning individual models aren't that pretty, insist on how rich the unit choice is.
- Simulation/physic anchored gameplay: Commercial RTS are pretty, but the prettyness is just a layer of puff and smoke over simplistic mechanics. For instance how many RTS do you know where wrecks are not just pretty effects that vanish after a couple seconds, but double as cover and resources?