@Redspear: I am not sure how it will look with the damage shader applied. What you see up there has been created by changing the original Griff's shader and hard-coding a value of RGB (0, 0, 0) for the diffuse color and RGB (255, 255, 255) for the specular color, which are the values suggested by the chart found here
. Other shaders applying overlays, which are not designed for this kind of material handling, may have to be modified as well to look good and not out of place.
Those pics above are meant as a quick and dirty demo of what can be achieved with the new specular system. Materials can be made to look even better than this, by following certain guidelines when designing textures. Normally one would want to create albedo (i.e. diffuse minus any baked-in lighting information), specular (again, without any baked-in light info) and shininess (spec map alpha channel) maps for fine control of the way light behaves when interacting with the surfaces, rather than brute-force specific color values in the shader.
What I am trying to get at with this is that things may look better or not, depending on how compatible current textures are with the new system. Generally they will look better, but there might be cases where shaders or textures may have to be reworked to work at maximum capacity with the new system.
@cbr: Check your logs for shader compile errors. If they are clean, then try increasing the shininess value for the MkIII shader materials in shipdata.plist to something like 75 or 80 and see if there is any difference.