Ouch, some pretty harsh words there Fox. I can't claim to be a 'pro' but I did say I was 'experienced;' that is, I'm used to working on polygon meshes and can make my way around the Max interface, so I only have to learn the nuances of the BAT extensions and not how to make a box.
I agree that the lights are overblown; I really don't know why they're so extreme since they seemed fine before. What aspect of them should I change? Do I darken the color, lower the multiplier, or narrow the hotspot or falloff?
Making the spotlights cast shadows left ugly criss-crossing shadows from the tower on the arches. I turned shadows off for aesthetic purposes but if you think realism is more important I'll try it. Perhaps I can reduce the shadow opacity.
I'll darken and matte the saucer a bit more, but I'm kinda stuck for the base. As a reference I'm using the pyramids at Teotihuacan
( http://www.richard-seaman.com/Travel/Mexico/Teotihuacan/index.html )
which as you can see don't have a lot of detail. Should I scrap the entire base and re-model it with more terraces, platforms and mastabas closer to the source?
Extracting new textures from photographs and bump-mapping them could go a long way, but as the sides and tops are the same material it's going to be difficult creating visual depth, given the SC4 perspective.
And I honestly don't think I can improve the modeling of the tower, arches, or crown any more than I have. I'd appreciate more constructive advice from someone as obviously experienced at this as you are, but mutual respect and patience will go a long way.