It's a nice idea in principal, however for me, the whole point of playing TI is to sit with a group of like minded individuals and enjoy a nice game together.
When your sitting behind a computer you will loose the following within the game:
1. Fellow players emotions as they play the game(in TI this does have an impact).
2. A casual chat to request negotiations and trades is not really possible removing the fun of seeing the other players reactions.
3. Watching the hesitations and second thoughts of the players around the table.
4. Total focus on the game(many online players will be doing other things in the background which not only distracts from the game but can really slow it down to an annoying pace).
5. Rolling the dice versus computer generated number seeds. There's something special about a classic analogue dice roll. This is removed when you play from an online computer program setup.
6. The social aspect of getting together to play a game with friends.
7. Exciting other gamers in your game club which generates more players when they all come around to watch a game and like what they see and want to play it as well.
8. Hilarious laughter and the many jokes that go around the table. (Many just wouldn't be funny when reading them off a screen even if a chat window interface was part of the computer version).
9.The overall impact on the game of having everyone sitting around the board as opposed to watching changes on a screen.
(Strange results can and do occur just due to this aspect alone).
10.The satisfaction of physically moving that fleet into battle etc. Watching pixels move on a screen is not as rewarding as moving in the actual miniature ships etc(also discovering the cheats who don't flip there ships on there side etc).
Board games and Role Playing games provide an excellent way for like minded people to have fun and socialise. Playing Twilight Imperium on a computer in my mind would be like playing chess with a computer(playing by yourself), it's just not as much fun. Then of course, let's face it, why put aside an excellent gaming experience for the sake of being lazy and not wanting to leave the chair at home?
Computer spreadsheets and programs do exist to assist players and those I don't have a problem with as the players still come to the table so to speak but as for making it entirely playable from behind a screen anywhere you want? Personally I think it kind of defeats the purpose of a board game. Not everything in the world needs to be simulated by a computer and games like the awesome Twilight Imperium are certainly a fine example of this.
There's my 2 Lazix dumps worth.