The rotating element currently spins non stop - so right now there's no spin up time - we'll see what the future holds though - the thing is that its cool to have things spin so it spins all the time - its great for trailers.
1) Can we get a gamemode that puts us in a fleet and we work our way up the ranks? till we command the entire fleet in combat?
I think it'd be a nice way to get used to the combat, and fly large ships without having to go through a ton of work for them.
That sounds like a separate game actually. Because this isn't a MMO and its a game made by me - you won't have to go through a ton of work. EG: 2nd ship about 2-3 hours of game play, 3rd ship about 2 more hours. At some point things should accelerate a lot when you have money making ships, the ability to capture ships and a base to build ships.
2) Are big ships inherently weak against fighter sized craft?
The only reason this should happen is gameplay, to make sure players keep fighters around to deal with other fighters.
Its not so much rock paper scissors. Big ships with huge beams would have a really hard time hitting a fighter, big ships with spinal mounted guns and with giant turrets won't be hitting fighters either. But they have defensive turrets that won't have a fighter shooting at the big guy forever without consequence.
It should be interesting to see - because some larger ships will be somewhat of a pain to get - early in the game - so in case the player has a military frigate (via theft), they might not want to risk it in battle but instead send in fighters to mop up (after recalling the frigate). Then replace the lost fighters via a friendly base's shop.
There's a simple "anti capital" flag that has weapons do double damage to cap ships - so things like bombers exist.
3) How deadly are those beams?
I remember Freespace fights being a pain when multiple capital ships would have beams of instagib every which way.
They aren't like that - but hopefully I'll spice them up with "more damage the longer/closer" type functionality. Also for trailers I sometimes beef up damage so that its more dramatic.
4) How final are the explosion and beam graphics?
They are currently a little too bright for my liking, tuning them down so they are darker (and less realistic) but have more obvious colors would be nice.
They are the exact effects from part 1. I don't tend to invest much time in the effects because I have no art skills, and this realm is much more specialized than 3D models/backgrounds/GUI/etc. So we'll see - perfection will surely evade this one man + contractors project - but it will be memorable.