Carriers are definitely overpowered.
However, I do not think they are broken. My simple suggestion for "fixing" them.
Require the player to build the tiny fighters at a starport and then load them onto the carrier. The player would then be required to pay for the fighters. they would then be required to upgrade them and manage them.
The Devs wanted to make the carriers as easy to use as possible. but lets be honest, most of us LIKE the fleet mechanics portion of the game. having to actually replace lost fighters and manage the fleets may make it a bit more balanced.
Or we could be like how StarCraft manages carriers... the carrier could build the craft.. but the player still has to build them and pay the building fee.
I apologize for not being eloquent with my post!
I'd be ok with the fix temporarily but not as a permanent fix. I really love having a lot of fighters! The underlying issue for me is that there are no other unique ships that you can build to counter carriers. So it will still be kind of a race to get carriers still.
If you gave passive bonuses to hulls that you could research in a tree such as I posted
tiny 10/20/30/40% evasion
Small 7/14/21/30% evasion
medium 5/10/15/20% evasion, 2/4/7/10% damage absorption
large 7/14/21/30% damage absorption,
immense 10/20/30/40% damage absorption
It would add a lot more character to the ship hulls, Increase the amount of interesting tech to research, and make other builds viable against a character so it doesn't instagib other fleets.
Then you could add different specialty hulls you could research to fit different type of roles like the examples I made paladin, dreadnought, etc. A paladin with tons of armor mods and support mods to debuff. Fitting dreadughts with beams to snipe them with the bonus range. This would further increase the counters to carriers.
Also the other problem is target acquisition from what I have noticed no matter how many guns are on a ship it will fire them all at one ship wasting a lot of that damage! This is worse to me than not carrying production over on planets! Cap ships in sins of the solar empire could shoot at more than one ship no reason not to do it here. so example
tiny 1 target
small 1 target
medium 2 targets
large 3 targets
immense 4 targets
Also make ships smart in the sense of if they know a enemy will need to be focused fire they will. But if a dreadnaught with 400 beams at say 4 different fighters at 10hp would instagib 4 fighters before they got close. maybe 8 before it even takes damage with bonus to range.
Also the possibility of support module increasing the amount of targets ships could fire upon to further flavor the fleets. Also to increase range, add defensive regen for shields, point defense, and armor, damage mitigation, etc!
I've always loved carriers and this is one of the first games I've ever played where there awesome and really fun to design. I've never been passionate about battle in other gal civs. To me it has always been bland in gal civs and an inconvenience. With carriers though it has really added some awesome flavor to the mix. I don't want stardock to beat the carrier with a nerf stick in a lazy way to balance.
I truly believe if you diversify by adding hulls with a passive bonus, specialized hulls, target acquisition, and a variety of support modules you could design different type of fleets to smash carrier fleets! Not only that but make the whole system much more interesting as a whole.
Galactic civilization has a real freeing mentality to it. They don't restrict and limit the player usually and I want that mentality to flow into combat!
Carriers for me was the first huge step in adding uniqueness and vigor to a boring combat system.
Instead of oh geeze blah overpowered make them BORING AND COST 23980423487 MILLION only one fighter cause I can't think of anything blah! I want people to instead go ok well I can design a sniper fleet to kill carriers or a tank fleet to outlast the buggers with support modules or whatever!
Of course I'm sure if a designer sees my ideas would roll his eyes at the amount of work. I do think they have the talent to do so. I know they don't want to regurgitate the same boring combat system with a pretty battleviewer and not add viable depth to the battle system.
I don't mean to be critical of your fixes in a harsh way but I've seen way to many games take an awesome concept and grind it into dust.
I've noticed that this community from what I've read has been pretty awesome and open minded. I know a lot of you all are very intelligent with some great ideas and critiques. So I'd love to hear your feedback!