Ian Fish has put up an article for Gamasutra about common pitfalls in game design processes.

These include:

1. Not Structuring Time For Game Playing
2. Placing Too Much Importance On Paper Designs
3. Peer Review Not Taken Seriously
4. Decision-Maker Picked For His Producer Skills
5. Not Taking Advantage Of Placeholders
6. Allowing The Story To Control The Game Design
7. Not Giving Designers Enough Tools
8. Entering Production Without Something Fun
9. Not Keeping Design Documentation Up-To-Date
10. Not Making Outside Playtests Part Of The Process

Even though this is only one opinion and we may not agree with all of these points, the summary is very interesting.  Especially time allocation for gameplay, or more precisely idea research, and point 9 are worth to examine for.

First point seems to attribute the lack of systematizing research of ideas outside your own solutions at the industry. It is not acknowledged as an important part of the designers work to know what is out there. This knowledge comes with the designer, not as a part of the job. The conventions that are out there to utilize and good partial design solutions in other products are always worth to check for. This enables saving time of prototyping and prevents inventing the wheel all over again. The industry is changing fast and our products are heavily experiential. We all know what it feels like to keep the pace with this ever growing and expanding game space. It is almost impossible. We were once the enthusiastics reading all the webpages and playing for hours per day. Then we got a day job.

The documentation part is inherently complex. It is our target as well to try to find out what works and why it doesn’t if documentation is overlooked. At least from the point of view of game ideas and iterative process of the idea creation. For example, if the documentation tool is too slow, too uncomfortable to access and doesn’t support the nature of the design process, is it really wonder that documentation is behind? Our natural approaches are sometimes less time consuming in some parts, even though they may be not that effective or accurate in some other parts of the process. It is important that the tool is supporting the nature of the work and not feeling as a burden.