The contrasting viewpoints hinge on the criteria for success. Darius Kazemi (the latter link) measured his by internet hits and links - he completed 72 projects last year and looked for patterns in which ones became successful - he didn't find any.
Jeffrey Cranor, of Nightvale, judged success by how satisfied he was and considers some of his projects, which drew 9 people to view them, as being equally successful to others that drew millions.
It being Nanowrimo, an essential writing skill:
The answer is to step back, reverse the whole process, and start with the character arc. Jot down notes about those cool settings and scenes on a set of cards. What is the appeal of that setting to you – the emotional pull? This could give insights into the kind of character that would inhabit it. Then start working on the characters. Focus on one character only to begin with. This is your lead character. Forget the setting. What does the character NEED to develop, to grow? What is their journey?...Want proof? Go check out that show about the guy with the blue box. The stories aren’t really about his TARDIS or the neat places you can go in it. Are they?