Story, background, motivation, objective, and purpose in the world the character inhabits were mentioned over and over again and seemed for many to be the most important starting points.
The physicality of characters was also important to some of the designers. Questions such as sex, size and level of activity, as well as what the characters needed to be able to do were considered to be important. "Each of those will give you a specific direction", said one designer.
Another issue that mattered to a few of the participants were the technical parameters. "Designing characters for traditional 2D would be fundamentally different from designing for a CG program", according to this point of view.
One contributor then asked a few questions that shifted the focus. "Who is the audience?" and "would the audience share the experiences (of the character)". Others in the group agreed that making sure you target the demographic properly is essential.