The true magic of LittleBigPlanet -- the PS3 debut from former Lionhead designers at then upstart Media Molecule -- wasn't fully understood until the game was in our collective hands for some time after its initial release.
What was then (mis-)understood as the videogame that would let us design our own videogames turned out to be one level abstracted from that. LittleBigPlanet had no intention of letting us faithfully recreate Mario's World 1-1 or Sonic's Green Hill Zone with pixel precision. Instead, what it does is take us back to the childhoods where we built those levels -- and every other bit of the world around us -- with the only materials we had at the time: markerpens, cardboard, felt and stickers.
And that's precisely what gives the game -- still continuing to grow and evolve both on the backs of its dedicated community (last reported to have created some 1.3 million levels) and through updates from MM themselves (their upcoming water pack has caused more excitement over a ubiquitous liquid than anyone imagined) -- its peerless charm.
That's not to discount the brilliance of its digital puppetry -- turning your tiny plush avatar into something you actually embody rather than simply propel forward -- or the delicate balance of its 'co-opertition' (as you attempt to hinder your friends' race toward score bubbles as evenly as you beg for their help). But it's the naive and innocent joy inherent in a game that's at heart about the arbitrary rules of the real-world games we created as kids ('you can only walk on the couch cushions, the floor is made of lava') as it is about its own crafted experience that's made it a modern classic.
So, in celebration of its recent first birthday, and its even Littler debut on the PlayStation Portable, below is a collection of the concepts and sketches (happily provided by its relaunched community site) that trace how the game's little pan-planet were cut-out constructed.