Some of the best advice that I have gotten from this whole extant blogging community has been to start your campaign planning small. When it comes to setting up a world for characters to explore, I had always assumed that one needed to draw a map of the entire campaign world and populate it with cities and kingdoms before starting. After all, what would happen if one of your players wanted to see the map to expand their travels? (Actual answer: nothing, because this never happened.) Now that I'm back in the campaign planning saddle, I figured that I would put this advice towards my criminal sci-fi sandbox, Assholes in Space. After a week spent watching episodes of Cowboy Bebop and playing the free Steam weekend of Brink, I've been jonesing for a little space western outlaw action.
Back in the April A to Z challenge, I came up with the idea of convict planets as a way of integrating "outer planets" post-apocalyptic action to a presumably cosmopolitan space opera setting. I figure that a single planet where the PCs are forced to explore until they can formulate a way to escape is a perfect starting point for a universe that's built upward. The convict planet has a great framework for faction conflict, environmental hazards and plenty of non-linear thinking on both the player and GM's parts.
My first step is going to be sketching out a general environment overview of the planet. If anyone out there has a good name for a planetary prison colony, let me know.