The absolutely nascent stage of game design sometimes isn't any different from how you found yourself spinning some feature of some other game you happened to be playing. One may even "know" that hey, wherever I go with this will be something different, even when still thinking so closely to the primary experience that it's pretty much the same as tweaking it at the table.
In this case, proceeding from the interesting experience of playing a ton of the Mentzer D&D, 1985, and then a ton of D&D 5th edition. Tor and a lot of the players decided that a fairly raw risk-loss context of town-and-dungeon was something they wanted to do, and weren't getting.
Typically people consider my consulting services when they're significantly past this point. All else being equal, I like being involved at earlier stages in a project than later, but this early poses its own issues. Tor initally spoke in terms of fixing or hacking or otherwise, conceptually speaking, electing himself the editor of a presumed revision of it.
Therefore our initial discussion, by email, had a lot to do with clearing out the way-future marketing notions and stuff like that, and getting some perspective. As I saw it, this also concerned whether he was really committing to a game design process or was merely spotting unicorns when all he really wanted was to poke the existing rules a little for more fun at their particular table.
Anyway, he turned out to want to design a game for its own sake after all, and here's our session about it. It's a really good look at some of the principles and methodology of my consulting in action.