Ludum Dare is over! Actually it has been over for a couple of days, but I'm just now digesting all that happened over the weekend.
For those who want to try it out you can download it from the Ludum Dare page.
It definitely helped this time around that I had other people working with me. I had Taylor actually working with me to make the game, and two other friends were making their own game for the competition in the same meeting room. I recommend that if you are doing your first (or even second) LD that you get some friends together and actually meet up physically to work on you game(s) (even if everyone works on their own). It really helps push you forward and you have a great source of crowd sourcing if you get stuck on some bug or implementation problem.
The other main thing I learned from this experience is how much time I need to allocate in the future when I participate in other competitions. Art takes up a lot of time, so expect to make some beginning sprites early and allocate at least 2 or 3 hours just making that. If you are using a framework that does not give you most of the convenience functions (ex. collisions, sprite management, level creation) make sure you are prepared to take another 3-4 hours setting up those common functions. What I'm going to do about that next time is actually create a framework that has all the features I need and then post it for free on GitHub so everyone can use it (maybe, RL might get in the way). It will probably be in XNA and not Pygame though.
Finally I realized how much time those little things take if you are not prepared for them. If you don't prepare a title screen early, then it may take a lot of work to shoehorn it into your game at the end. Same with win/lose conditions and allowing the player to restart (whether that be restarting the level or the game) without exiting. Next time I will definitely be prioritizing the full game cycle much earlier in the process.
In the end I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and am excited to participate again in March. Hope to see everyone then.