Sounds like you are aiming for a technological base, where at least content (like maps and vehicles, so mostly art) can be added in later. I do regret not having joined the LL-dev team (only to get a grasp of a big team collaborating), even though it would have been only for the last six months of development. If you ever have more solid ideas, I will be first in line to volunteer helping out. (Meanwhile I may be trying to work on my own project. )
Also, where does Imps approach seem "super hard-core"? Flipping switches by hand seems like a great thing to me - it also ensures that your cockpits are functional and modelled to a certain degree. And, aside from the switches, it didn't seem too "hard-core" to me.
Perhaps not super-hardcore.
Flipping some basic switches to start up the 'mech would be fine. Putting some basic functions that you don't have to touch often would work too. I wouldn't want to see a start up sequence comparable though to that of the DCS games. I "played" DCS blackshark and never managed to even get the chopper in the air except once (youtube it.) This amount of depth would just be a barrier to anyone except the hardest of the sim fans. A few switch's to start up the mech would be neat though. Would also be cool if the switch flipped according to button presses, instead of having to use a mouse to do it in some situations.
Actually, I suppose I could imagine some other reasons for the switches. For instance in setting up weapon fire groups and those sort of things where you wouldn't have to mess with it much. Perhaps a coolent flush switch and one for autoeject.
Many modern aircraft now use glass cockpit displays though, with switches still being in place as backup. One idea could be to have the cockpit systems mostly automated or hotkeyes with a mouse clickable glass/LCD display for some functions. Then if the 'mech takes damage to the cockpit you're control systems can get knocked out and you have to resort to using the manual "switch" systems for some functions.
That does sound pretty cool actually. I would just want to keep the amount of switching during combat to a minimum, with the exception of eject.
I know you made some smaller apps like the ones in your sig, what kind of programming expertise do you have?
note- since I didn't originally intend this thread to discuss particulars of my possible project if there is enough interest I can set up a forum so we can discuss ideas.