So many people want a carrier in this game. It was the same way in Stars!, back in its day. There was that die-hard group that thought it could not survive without carriers. The argument made was that it provided a strategic base for those one and two man "fighters" that are created during the early game.
But in my little private world where I go during game play, there are no little one-man "fighters". Early "tiny" hulls, in my mind, are at least as large or larger than today's space shuttle. Tiny hull ships in GalCiv should not be called "fighters" at all. To me, they are more analagous to being
Another way of looking at things, is that we start off on the low-end of the technology tree and work our way up, progressing to larger and better hulls in our "navy" as we learn new technologies, much the same way that Earth-bound navies developed. So we would then look at "tiny" hulls in-game as being analogous to the ancient hulls, anyone who has played Civilizations knows the progression as well as I do.
Which brings up a point in my mind, in that ancient mariners started out first as explorers, then as traders and merchants, and then warships were developed to initially attack the merchant ships. The other side then developed warships to protect their merchant ships from being attacked, or they simply armed the merchant traders. Having to "develop" trade ships seems to be a much more artificial construct in this game than the lack of carriers.
Anyway, getting back to my original thought (assuming I ever have one, that is), today's fighters and carriers are a very recent development (I know, Captain Obvious has struck again). Any development of a ship that carries the initial "tiny" hulls in this game is as silly a notion as putting Greek triemes on the USS Ronald Reagan, in my opinion.
Then, there is the fact that airpower, as developed for warfare here on Earth, was a great-leap in destructive potential due to the fact that the airplane moved through a different medium (air) and gave the great advantage of always possessing the "high ground". The carrier was developed as a new type of ship to take advantage of this new potential. The plane possessed characteristics that the ship was totally unable to possess, the ability to fly through the air, move much faster, and take advantage of the "third dimension". Ship to ship combat before the advent of airpower was pretty much restricted to a two-dimensional arena (don't bring in the submarine either, that's a different fight altogether). I do not see a corresponding change in technology or battle tactics that would result in the development of a carrier in GalCiv. I just don't. At least not a carrier that has the capability of carrying two dozen or so tiny and/or small hull ships.
IF there were the development of the carrier in GalCiv, it would be along the lines (in my feeble mind) of the way carriers and aircraft for carriers were developed for Hearts of Iron II, where a new unit is created whose sole purpose is to be carried by the carrier. Those of you who have never played HOI are at a disadvantage in following my argument at this point. Sorry. Basically, each "unit" represents a certain number of craft that are based solely on the carrier. This unit then carries out its missions similar to other aircraft (in HOI). So, in this case, each "unit", let's call it a carrier squadron for the sake of argument, would have pretty much the same sort of stats given to individual ships in the game. A carrier squadron would have zero range, so it could only travel around using a carrier hull for movement. In fact, in GalCiv, carrier squadrons could only be represented in two areas of the game, in-orbit around a planet and in the combat video during combat.
So, as you can probably see, the way I envision carriers and their squadrons being developed in GalCiv, they would not really be nearly as important in combat as carriers and air squadrons have been in naval combat here on Earth. They would most likely be developed later in the game, at some point after large hulls. Early carrier squadrons would have stats similar to a comparable tiny hull ship at the time, and they would progressively grow stronger as technology is researched.
But again, let me state that this would not appreciably improve the playability of this game for me. I personally need a better argument for carriers in GalCiv other than "That would be kewl, dude!".
Instead of railing over the lack of carriers, I would prefer to see land combat modeling changed. There should be ground combat units (separate from the general population) that actually conduct land-based battles for control of planets. I'm not necessarily promoting tactical combat here either, nor should there necessarily be "contested" planets, although with a weekly turn-based system there could easily be. I am not happy with "combat as xenocide" as the game currently resolves it. Instead, players should build land combat units that are used in offensive and defensive operations on planets, and one of the costs of building these units would be a "pop cost". Keep it simple. One legion of combat soldiers (and their support units) would have a pop cost of 1b tax-paying citizens, plus whatever other costs that would be required.
Suffice it to say that any game could be "improved" upon, but GalCivII as it stands today strikes a good balance. It provides a good layer of strategic abstraction that makes the game playable for a large number of people. Enough of all this rambling! I have too much free time today.