Here is a guide I compose for the community of those who wish to do Ludum Dare. Ludum Dare is a game programming challenge that takes over the weekend.
Guide to getting started in game programming,
I have been looking through ludum dare games rating them and all that mainly, but then realized I am learning from them. I found about 40 made in Java which had good source code I learned from, like algorithms that are very great. I suggest going to look at the site, but I don't want you looking and complaining for Java games so here are ludum dare games made by the one and only Notch: [url]notch.net/games[/url]
These games should be helpful, and take note, the 4K games are games that are memory efficient. I suggest memorizing algorithms and using them in games. Remember libraries and what is the fastest and most efficient way to program for you.
Every weekend for about 2 month I found it to be great to make plan a game over the weekend, and have my friends write a design for it. During the weekend I would make the art when I got home on Friday, and then the rest of the weekend was coding it, sure I got a decent speed and added some things, but usually didn't get to everything. This was great practice for me, and I got better at my art skills, creativity, and how fast I could draw. You will slowly notice that you are remembering code on how to jump and deal with things. Near the end of the 2 months I suggest you start applet programming and maybe find a website to host your applet. More people prefer web games over downloadable games.
Near the competition:
Go to the ludum dare site and look for a mini ludum dare. I suggest doing 4 of these before doing an actual contest so you get used to the feel. Once you are comfortable and ready, I suggest looking for an actual LD event and signing up. Make sure you clear your weekend or just wait for another LD(ludum dare).
If you are lucky, you vs some actual game designers, but they don't usually try to kinda even out everything. Make sure you are eating healthy food, and if wanted, the occasional sugar product for a morale boost. Music helps get you in the mood of your game so go find a public online radio!
I hope helped you guys who are beginning game programming get excited and started on learning most things. Also these are my suggestions of what I have done, they might not be the best, but they worked for me.