i've been slowly building up my own fantasy world setting for a while now and it's far from finished but there's something i've been wondering about.
everyone tends to focus on different aspects of the same thing.
for instance, to me, it seems like people probably recognize faces based on different aspects of a face. i haven't actually read any studies on that or anything but that's something we inherently learn on our own as babies so i would guess that we probably all learn it in a way that makes it easiest for each of us to differentiate between the faces we see as a kid. if so, that could explain why when different people look at the same face they can have different opinions as to if that person looks like some other person or not. they're probably looking at different things features more prominently than others.
but back to the point...
what kind of things do you/would you think about if you're building your own world? what kind of things do/would you focus on first? what kind of things don't really occur to you to think about until someone else mentions or suggests them? do you just basically come up with a list of things you think you need to cover or does one thing just string into coming up with ideas about something else?
for me it seems to start with characters and spiral outward from there.
the fantasy world i've been working on started with just one character. i kind of made up what he can do and other stuff then i made up some possible friends and a place for him to live (or at least where he lives at first). i kind of figured i wanted my initial character to meet the new ones i had just created on some sort of a journey so i ended up drawing a basic world map to flesh out more later on.
these new characters also added some new races into the world and ended up leading into creating other races that had nothing to do with any of these characters as well as some little bits of world history and certain magic systems/sciences. at about this point i happened upon a deviation showing some architecture in another fantasy world. (i just spent a long while trying to find it... i think it was related to allods online but i could be wrong.) while the general form of the architecture's elements were basically the same shape it was clearly styled differently from one city in one place to another. this got me thinking about architecture differences between the various races/areas i had come up with so far which lead to me fleshing out certain races a bit more and basing/tweaking their architecture for certain aspects of their culture. at the same time dreaming up how the various magic systems/sciences worked also lead me into creating some plants, animals, monsters and such.
i graduated as a CADD major and because of that, after i finished the general studies junk they always force on you in college, i took classes having to do with building design, floor plans, building/zoning code, as well as an assortment of manufacturing based classes. because of those classes there are also other things i think about now that i didn't before. some examples of that include the construction of certain things, layout of certain buildings based on their use, means of egress, fire safety ratings etc, the layout of manufacturing facilities based on the methods they're using. blah blah blah.
so even though i might quickly think up something i think would be a neat architectural solution/method for a race i also end up wondering how structurally sound it may be and stuff like that which leads me into thinking about building materials they use how to solve various problems with structural stability or if i should revise that thought a bit to fit into what their common/favored materials can believably do or have them use some sort of magic/made up materials to sidestep said issues.
during all of this i'm still going about my day to day so i have also found some sparks of inspiration for more specific things while i was reading my bible, surfing deviantart, doodling something random, playing with my dogs, going to feed the ducks... whatever.
anyway that's kind of the way my thought process goes.