Seemingly since the day when intrepid capsuleers ventured into the unknown reaches of wormhole space, players have speculated about the removal of local from nullsec and/or lowsec. There is no denying that the absence of local chat lends a unique mystery to wormholes, helping define them as an area very distinct from the rest of New Eden. However, would the removal of local chat actually help address any of the issues in lowsec or nullsec?
In my opinion – no, they wouldn’t. Not without the implementation of a slew of systems in EVE Online to take the place of the local chat channel in regards to intelligence gathering. That being said, I do think that the removal of local (or moving it to a delayed system) and the implementation of new methods of gaining intelligence as to the status and situation of a system would be one of the single greatest advances towards true immersion in EVE Online.
Immersion is something that, at times, EVE Online severely lacks. However, it is not the most pressing issue to be concerned with. CCP is, in relation to the gaming industry as a whole, a small business. Their resources are limited (see also: No Modular POS Expansion) and any attempt at justifying the prioritization of removing a feature that, while not ideal, definitely works in favor of a list of features that are unproven is just silly.
Perhaps one day we can cast off the tyranny of local chat in favor of a system that allows for more ‘thrill of the chase’. That day, however, should not be today or any day in the near future. However, when that day comes, I wouldn’t mind seeing something that represents a futuristic version of submarine warfare, wherein ‘pinging’ (be it through d-scan, seeing a ship on grid, probing or another game mechanic to be determined) allows for a visual representation of what ships are around, what their affiliation is (neut, blue, war target, etc – think IFF system), and depending on the system, their approximate location.
The most important consideration, when thinking about ways to remove local from the intel situation, is to ensure that it remains a system that is skill-based – and not skillpoint-based. No new modules, skillbooks, or other requirements should be involved with this theoretical new intelligence tool. One of local’s few charms in the role of intel tool is the fact that you don’t need any number of SP to be able to understand its use and role. The freshest character off the capsuleer assembly should be able to use this new intel tool without arbitrary roadblocks in their way.
Considering this – the fact that local’s intel gathering capabilities need to be replaced by a system that does more or less the same thing, with a similar requirement that it not be skillpoint-based – I feel that it is, at best, a ‘would like to have someday’ goal. And while it is fun to speculate as to the shape of things to come (enough people have certainly had a field day with the no local banter), I prefer to deal in the immediate needs and wants of the players.