Rosie Rappaport, lead designer on the EverQuest Next team, told convention attendees about how her team looked to Lego bricks for inspiration when building the prototype for EverQuest Next: Landmark while comprehensively detailing the process that brought about the standalone level editor. Landmark started out as merely a tool for the development team but proved so fun that they made it into a game. Sony Online Entertainment tasked the team with building something that was, like the original EverQuest before it, Revolutionary, as opposed to Evolutionary. Because the market is inundated with MMOs, they wanted the team to develop something that truly blew people away. They decided it was a good idea to build a revolutionary prototype to do just that.
Rappaport stressed three crucial points that helped the team focus their efforts and build the prototype they had in mind. First, they needed to develop, not just have an excellent idea. They wanted to make a tool set that would allow the team to build both destructible and highly dynamic environments, unlike previous MMOs where the only manipulable terrain had to be deliberately designed by a designer. They then decided it was a good idea to give those tools to players to allow them to build the imaginary worlds they wanted to see. Deciding to offer the tools to players, however, presented the team with a variety of new challenges. They wanted to make the tools easy to use while retaining the world's organic feel; they wanted everything to have character, not simply look like cookie-cutter pieces thrown together. They ended up giving the game "grid-based rules", which would make the tool easier to use, and adapting that rule system to allow for visuals that would characterize the game's various scenes.
The second pillar of the team's prototype design philosophy was: "do what you can with what you have." The team members loved Lego bricks, many having a set of them on their own desks. They looked to these for inspiration, parsing the function of piece types and creating analogues in the Landmark editor.
Lastly, she said that prototype building teams needed to be "always moving forward." Teams can't allow themselves to be paralyzed by the waiting game. In doing something revolutionary, you're going to be sitting around a lot of the time, waiting for feedback from various groups. You're also going to run into a lot of roadblocks, and you're going to have to spend a lot of time finding your own way around these roadblocks.
Rappaport believes her team managed to build something revolutionary, but ultimately left it up to the panel attendees to decide, playing a montage of creations players had put together during their short time with the beta version of the game. All of the environments looked organic and were brimming with character. Though it remains to be seen whether or not everyone will be able to build beautiful worlds with Rappaport's team's editor, things are definitely looking up.