Allow me to express the gratitude for the next successful year of Level Up. With the Microsoft's yearly XNA contest (DreamBuildPlay) gone, the Level-Up has yet again risen in importance and in fact remains the only contest where one can get straight to Steam !
Personally, I regard the Level-Up much, much higher than IGF's yearly contest.
Although I didn't actually manage to finish the demo of my second game before the deadline, it is in a playable state. Which wouldn't happen, if it weren't for this contest, for which I am personally very grateful.
This contest helps us - small developers - working on their games in their free time to DREAM BIG (and still go home every evening :-) )
For me, this contest always sparks an intense bonfire of motivation, determination and coding discipline.
Allow me to quote Tyrell from Blade Runner here: "The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly."
P.S. : Try to talk the folks in legal department into spending more time on the countries that were excluded this year ;-)