For the majority of Eve players, “Local” is perhaps the most important chat channel in the game. Simply by glancing at local chat you can get the exact number of people in system and a general idea of which groups comprise the people in system. Local provides a certain level of security for ratters as they can instantly find out when someone enters their system. Attackers have likewise turned that against the defenders by cloaking in system and going afk for hours on end. It is here that the dispute regarding the role of local begins.

The defender will complain about the afk cloaker, claiming their gameplay style is risk-free while the defender has to continuously be on edge. They simply cloak up, wait for someone to go ratting, uncloak and destroy the ratting defender. The defender assumes that they are entitled to the perfect intel knowledge that local provides to begin with. After a set amount of back and forth in this debate, the afk cloaker will state with an ironic tone “okay nerf afk cloaking…get rid of local.” Of course this is not what the defender is interested in either, they are worried about their safety and ability to farm. Unfortunately the discussion on the role of local does not develop much beyond this and countless threads archived and otherwise exist out there showing this same repeated line of argument again and again. Let us entertain the idea of removing local anyway.

Proponents of removing local chat would argue that it encourages people to roam out into nullsec more and find juicier targets; ratting carriers, anom mining Rorquals, the occasional rat-fitted titan and such. Although defenders in the argument tend to ignore this point, the defending power has massive resource and numeric advantages. Naturally as the defender you should have a certain advantage, but recognizing that local plays such a large role in that is required for honest discourse.

On the other side, those who argue against removing local claim that doing so would lessen content. Without people being able to see who is in local, they would not know where to go to find targets or where enemy fleets are heading. This is partially true. Dotlan is a tool that shows where ratting is most prevalent and indicates higher population and activity. However, it is possible that two roaming gangs may end up losing each other if there is absolutely no local whatsoever.

Solution: Local as a perfect intel tool is broken; it feels somewhat gimmicky and takes away some of that immersion one may expect playing Eve. Removing it wormhole style likewise adds its own issues in k-space, limiting content. The best option is a middle ground option in the form of “modified local.” In your chat window, local will show the total number of players in system, but specific individuals are not listed by name. This way larger fleets trying to fight one another will not lose track of where their opponents are.  No content is actually missed because the information of “there’s a large fleet around us to fight” is still there without providing the pinpoint intel that we currently have.

Perfect intel limits content as nobody wants to throw their fleet into a fight they are likely to lose, not counting trash throwaway kitchen sink fleets. No intel likewise limits content as entities would miss each other or FCs would fear engaging a more powerful opponent, with a tendency to overestimate the other side. What we ideally want is a fog of war that gives people an outline of their opponent without giving them too much information. There should be enough intel through local to entice an interaction while still keeping enough mystery to allow for unpredictable engagements.