Lord of the Rings Online's Design Director Cardell "Annuvin" Kerr gives us a look at Vastin's Castle. This is just a sample, to read the entire diary follow this link.
When I first rolled over to LOTRO from DDO, I was pretty focused on making sure the games were VERY different. We wanted the LOTRO play cycle to be different (ie: I wanted you to be able to play LOTRO for hours, while DDO's play cycle was typically higher impact, and thus shorter), and I wanted to focus on the protagonist, not the system. If anything, I wanted the system to be informed by the protagonist, since LOTRO is based off of a story, while DDO is based off of a system.
However, that's not the entire story. Early on in LOTRO dev (not MEO dev, as I've only been on the project since November of '04), I got into a long argument with another designer about media types (re: Stories, Movies, Games), and what their strengths and weaknesses are. His position... well, it's not important, as I'm the one writing this (I still love him for his brains, though). My position has been bolstered by numerous instances of point 1 (above), and are built around a core of point 2. That position states that books tell stories that can be deeply personal, movies further refine that (or trivialize it/miss the point entirely, depending on your reference), while games... well, games don't present stories as well as either (for the majority of people). Instead, they allow for interaction, something that no movie really does well, and only choose your own adventure books did reasonably well in the past (for a medium that wasn't a video game).
Read more about Lord of the Rings Online here.