The carrier.. as a combat ship, I am not looking in to have one return. Though we gave it a good go, it never really worked out brilliantly. As a result, we looked in to creating varients of the core ships to mix things up instead.
There is one possibility, and that is modding fighters so they become shuttles instead. Every ship could have one shuttle equipped, and though they would be used infrequently, we could have missions where you have to deply a shuttle. For example, the repairing of sensor relays could require a shuttle instead of just the ship pulling up next to it. We could also have other reasons e.g. ferrying passengers to stations or between ship, conducting a close survey of an asteroid or nebula or deploying specialist equipment. Infact, we could potentially move to handling all transfers like this, with a shuttle pilot needed to send engineers, boarding parties or medical teams rather than the automatic transfers we have at the moment.
In situations like that, the shuttle and pilot would be vulnerable and it would make for interesting decisions if attacked or as part of some time critical missions. You’d also have to nominate one of your bridge officers to man the shuttle as well, sacrificing a position and having someone else stepping in to fill for them. With a crew of six, again it could make for interesting play.
I can easily script in messages for the GM to send with things like ‘shuttle launched’, ‘shuttle docked’, ‘transferring personnel’ etc. They would be pop-up messages for all the crew.