I guess it'd be because the size would make it hard to click on, but really, its not necessary to click on, just use the hotkey... oh well, what reasons did they give?
I am willing to bet the actual reason is that, due to the actual size of the models, if they were to make Runabouts and shuttles the right size, they'd be able 2 pixels big.
You only need to look at the small craft already in game like the Runabout to see that it is at the limit of physical mesh size - any smaller, and you begin to lose detail in both model and texture, to the point where it becomes a squarish box.
This issue of size was backed up by the earlier pre-launch bug where you'd beam down to the surface as your ship, and the ships were similar in size to characters (the miranda, for example, was small enough that probably only two characters could actually stand on the dish).
So we're talking engine restraints here, which is yet another lack of vision on the part of the team during early conception of the game.
It has to be said that the use of such small models has also played a very big part in the errors with the ships - it is physicaly quite difficult to get accuracte shapes when you're working with such low-res polygon meshes.
*nods* yeah, I can see that being a problem, but then, for the system requirements, you'd expect more from the engine. Maybe it's just a great deal of untapped potential just waiting for the chance to be released.
The bigger you make ships, the higher the poly count, the greater the system resource. So its likely they've used such small models in an attempt to keep system requirements low for low end machines, which is a fairly concistent Cryptic mindset as they are a small company effectively making small-rated games (STO not included) and therefore have a greater dependency on a wider spectrum of PC users compared to a company like Funcom making a game like Age of Conan.
Its basicaly along the same lines as the stupidly over-sized ship interriors. We know they can be scaled down without camera issues, and its highly probable that we could have ships twice the size as they currently are without it being largely detrimental to performance, but Cryptic have convinced themselves of something and will defend that decision to the hilt.
Any chance we can get the UVW mapping coordinates fixed on ships like the Sovereign/Intrepid/Nova (possibly others but these are some of the worst). Textures seem fine but as a fellow 3D guru, it pains me to see straight lines in your textures (i.e. hull aztecing/plating) screwed up by bad UV mapping!
On the left is Merzo's canon scale chart and on the right is Suricata's STO tier / scale chart. Between the two, the grid sizes are absolutely identical with each large square equalling ~100m and each sub-square ~10m; within the confines of the grid, the galaxy's scale is consistent on both sides. Apologies for the quality, I zoomed the image by 200% so the grid lines would be easier to see. (I could probably be convinced to knock up some more scale side by sides / over unders if you want. ^.^ )
While I refer to the Merzo chart as canonical, I also acknowledge that the Defiant is scaled anywhere between the length listed for it on the left, and the length listed for the Sabre, which I've included in the chart to give an idea of the min / max for the Defiant. (I also put in the STO defiant scale just to even out the chart. :3 )
From the chart, you are very close to being correct, the Defiant is just over 170m in STO (the same size or larger than the canon-scaled Sabre on the left.)
My own personal tastes make me like the low end size of 120m, though, as it makes the ship a little more like a fighter / PT boat to me. ^.^