This post has been in my backlog as draft for months, for no apparent reason other than that I forgot about it. LotRO players will notice how old the screenshots are, but the message they convey hasn’t changed.
Let’s play a game:
Floating names: they are everywhere. They are one of these things that you just accept as god-given these days. Very few MMOs deviate from this UI decision; one example that comes to mind is DDO.
However, they change your perception of the world. Instead of riding through plains, or walking through a forest, scouting for whatever you’re searching, you can see everything with one look. You tend to not notice the scenery any more, or the mobs themselves; what you see is a target, and a beeline in your mind to said target. Run, kill, loot, run, kill, loot.
Same goes for the mini map: I tend to stare a lot at it in some games, to the detriment of enjoying the scenery. So I sometimes remove it from my screen (if possible), especially if it gives quest hints of where to go. You can’t see it in this LotRO screenshot, but I play EQ2 without the mini map, and it’s great.
I really enjoy the fact that without floating names, I have to watch out for enemies, especially in such dark areas as the Old Wood. I was surprised by the profound effect. It’s a great and simple tool to immersion.