I just saw your twitter about the look of GSB, so I thought I might toss out some ideas around:
Imperfection in the weapons firing. I always find it looks strange when a lot of weapons are firing at the exact same moment on large capital ships. Small imperfections in the timing can give the feel that the weapons are manned by actual people. Also slight offsets in the targeting accuracy as well as laser drift on stationary targets. I thinking of TNG, where often when firing a phaser, the beam will often move across a target, rather then be completely spent in a single spot. If you go with a reflecting laser, then having the beam move across the shield will create a pleasing visual effect as the reflection angle changes. Also, by cycling through various turrets so that while one is cooling, another is firing, it can allow a constant uninterrupted stream of firepower. If it’s 3 seconds on, and 2 seconds off and you have 5 turrets, you can cycle them so there is always 3 turrets firing while two are cooling by offsetting the firing start time on each turret by a second, as an example.
A graphical effect of the shield being hit is also good feedback, such as the brightening of the shield, or a warble, or perhaps a slight collapsing effect. Lots of movies/TV shows have lots of various ways of doing it.
The look of the lasers just doesn’t quite feel right. Maybe if you tried thickening them while also making it more transparent around the edges. I guess trying to make it look more like the laser is made out of plasma, while less scientifically accurate, may create a visual effect that is more appealing.
It’s about making the lasers look like they are unleashing incredible amounts off energy, and the shields are doing their absolute best to turn back this intense firestorm.
TV shows and Movies do have one advantage over games, and that is for every instance a weapon is fired, a team of people while decide what combination of effects will look the best for that specific scene