PURPOSE: There is some talk of a community balance mod. While it is most likely doomed to never go anywhere, I guess there's a 1% chance it might, thus consider this my contribution to help organize some of the thinking and planning of it.
PROBLEM: As most of us know, one of the big problems with the game is that caps can't really do their job of supporting the fleet because they get focused and killed. The problem is that they can't really accompany the fleet in battle and use their abilities because they pop like balloons. The survivability of capships doesn't scale with the size of fleets.
SOLUTION: Before there is much done in the way of adjusting and rebalancing caps (I have seen quite a bit of thought put into this over the months), I think there must first be some effort put into thinking about what the ultimate gameplay mechanic will be for caps (a gameplay mechanic which will solve said "problem" above), otherwise we are "putting the cart before the horse." Decide on the solution first, then tweak the caps.
1. DO NOTHING. There doesn't need to be some "grand solution," because there isn't a problem (except for all the hot air Agent is blowing). Caps are essentially fine. If you can't keep your caps alive, you're just a sucky player. Just go ahead and tweak caps without any thoughts to changing "capship gameplay mechanic" blah blah.
2. ADJUST OTHER UNITS. Lower the amount of damage lrm/bombers do to caps, adjust armor values, switch the "nemesis" of the capship from lrm to light frigate, etc.
3. ADJUST CAP SURVIVABILITY: Up shield mitigation, put in a damage (dps) cap, up armor values, etc.
4. ADJUST CAP HITPOINTS: While this should go under #3 above, I haven't heard this idea before, so I'm putting it under its own category. Double, triple, quadruple, the hitpoints of caps. On the surface, it seems like a workable idea. At any rate, it doesn't have some of the negatives people don't like about damage caps or upping shield mitigation.
5. LOWER CAPSHIP COST: "Go ahead, focus and kill as many of my caps as you want, because 'there's more where that came from.' "
6. CAPS COUNTER CAPS: Under this model, capships would essentially be immune to damage from frigs, frigs would essentially be immune to damage from caps, and caps would counter other caps. This way, caps could always be "in the thick of it" supporting the fleet with abilities. Their survivability would scale with fleet sizes because they would essentially be immune to damage from frigs. If you want to kill a cap, build the appropriate counter-cap.
7. OTHER: Submit your ideas please.