Just to clarify: it's not my contention that SC (by which I mean the vision of SC they've allowed fans to conjure in their heads over the years) would be done by now if it had been done properly.
What I'm saying is that if it had been done properly, everyone (including me) would, right now, be happily flying our ships around a huge multiplayer persistent universe, getting out and walking around space stations, driving around planets, trading, doing missions, upgrading our ships - and I can say that with confidence because Elite has already done most of that on a tiny fraction of the budget.
Now, before anyone drops the F-bomb, the right time to pursue fidelity as a goal in itself is AFTER you've solved critical path. Until you do that, you have no idea what level of fidelity you can afford or even want. Do players really WANT lengthy, unskippable animations for clambering in and out? Can you ACTUALLY transmit a couple of gigs worth of hi-res texture damage data to every client entering a system full of ships?
Whatever you may think of it as an experience, Elite has done a fantastic job of pursuing critical path. The core is there, and expansions are now building upon that. Imagine how exciting it would be if SC were at the place Elite is now - except with $115m dollars still in the bank to fund further development and expansion.
But that's not what's happened. Instead, fidelity has led the charge with nary a nod to practicality or even desirability, akin to employing the damage model of Sniper Elite to Overwatch. Critical path has been treated as a nuisance, ignored in favour of this insanely wasteful 'modular development' strategy.