We are apparently getting a "Capital Ship" type of vessel, which perhaps has some of its own rules. Among them are apparently planned the ability to use factories and such while still being ships. But I digress...
If we can have a "Capital Ship" type, then why not also have a "Fighter Ship," which has some differences to its rules relative to a normal ship?
Perhaps this can be done by having a "Fighter Core" that you use instead of a Ship Core.
Some of the things that could be applied to any ship classified as a Fighter:
-much lower energy reactor power soft cap, but reactor generation increases several times faster per-block/dimension.
-Similarly, shields get a low softcap, but also increase faster per-block.
-Energy capacitors get a softcap, but also increases several times faster per-block.
-cannot send power to OR receive power from anything they are docked to. Can only rely on their own power supply.
Additionally, when docked as a turret, cannot benefit from capital ship shielding (they are still protected when docked normally though, so a carrier's shields can protect its docked fighters).
-take only 50% damage from non-fighter entities. Exception: a non-fighter is using a turret with the Fighter Ship core, so said turret does full damage to fighters.
-Some blocks may not be allowed on fighters. This could include cargo systems, gravity units, war inhibitors, scanners, transporters, and perhaps some other systems you normally expect to see on large ships only. (Warp Drives would be allowed, but perhaps limited to 1 warp computer per ship).
-This type of ship would have a higher cap for mass/thrust ratio (but not speed cap). Thruster blocks function the same as normal otherwise.
-This type of ship cannot be built past 99m in any dimension.
-This type of ship can damage docked items without going through the mothership's shields first (the docked item's own shields, if they have them, still work). However, this only applies when the fighter is NOT docked to something.
That last one is perhaps especially important, as it allows fighters to be effective against anything docked to a titan, even if not the titan itself. i.e. they can do the same sort of role they play in many of those old space sci-fi games where you play the role of a fighter pilot (weaken a large vessel so that your own large vessels can engage it at an advantage).
Overall though, it allows small fighters to be useful, but only up to a certain size, after which the low shield, reactor, and capacitor softcaps mean you should use a normal ship.
Additionally, you could use the fighter core to make a dedicated anti-fighter ship, by making a miniature frigate-like vessel (optionally, one with a fighter core itself), and covering it in fighter-cored self-powered turrets.
From here, we can perhaps make one other change too:
-Give the primary weapons a natural degree of inaccuracy for ALL ships, perhaps 1-2 degrees. This would help allow small vessels to not get instantly taken down. At present, beams and cannons (and technically missiles) are perfectly 100% accurate when used by the player. I say this shouldn't be the case, outside of certain weapon combinations (cannon + 100% beam could be given full accuracy, as could other "sniper" weapons). Certain systems could perhaps reduce accuracy as well (cannon + cannon could perhaps do this a bit for instance).