When I started the TGC Competition 2006, I was a bit worried about the deadline being far too short to make any sort of decent game (that I could think of). But early on, I found some alternative ways - to 100% hard coding - to make a reasonably slick camera and control system. In fact - it worked out far better than any straight coding i've tried in the past.
It also debuts the first implementation of a system I've been developing since around mid-September, which I have pretentiously dubbed the X-engine. It allows me to use Softimage XSI to design, model, texture, animate and set up the basic physics properties for an entire level and then export as a single direct x file. The game code then picks it apart and assigns the correct attributes to the different elements. Currently, the level-specific mechanics/events have to be hard coded, but I intend to switch to a scripting system asap.
The X-engine was created to speed up my work flow and more importantly; for allowing users to create and add their own levels (with ease) in the future. As you never know who will take your game and do something you never thought of. It's the ultimate source of user feedback.