Exploring indie development and winning The Big Indie Pitch with Rikzu Games

We talk to Rikzu Games' Ricardo Mendonça about The Big Indie Pitch

Exploring indie development and winning The Big Indie Pitch with Rikzu Games

The Big Indie Pitch, a regular event run by the makers of, sees indie developers engage in a rapid fire pitching competition for fame and those sweet, sweet promotional packages.

The event gives indies four minutes to pitch their games to a panel of press, publishers, and industry pundits, each receiving invaluable feedback, before the judges pick three winners.

The indie view

The Big Indie Pitch is getting bigger and bigger as we bring it across the world. We've sat down with a number of past BIP contestants to offer their views on the event, its attendees, and the games on show.

The Big Indie Pitch goes digital

Today, we're speaking to Ricardo Mendonça from Rikzu Games, the studio behind Leap: A Dragon's Adventure, which recently pitched at The Digital Big Indie Pitch #12 (Mobile Edition) and walked away as the champion. Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio - who is on the team, and what are their inspirations?

Ricardo Mendonça: I'm Ricardo Mendonça, from Portugal, and I recently got my master's in Computer Science and Engineering. I can do pretty much anything that developing a game requires and I aspire to create unique and innovative games.

Then we have my girlfriend, Juliana Cortez, she just graduated in Computer Science and Engineering and also aspires to create games with me. She's also very versatile in what she can do but mainly focuses on the art aspects of the games.

Josh Bakaimis is our music composer from Australia and has a Bachelor's in sound. Whether it be creating haunting soundscapes or ambient uplifting melodies, he finds the right groove and tone to fit any piece of art. He intends to continue to work with more game developers.

Can you tell us about Leap: A Dragon's Adventure that you pitched at the competition? 

Leap: A Dragon's Adventure is a platformer that takes you to new beautiful worlds with many things to discover while controlling a cute chunky dragon. Your journey will be met by many difficult obstacles while you feel the freezing winds of the north or the relaxing vibes of Japanese land, accompanied by amazing matching soundtracks.

What do you think are the most unique and interesting aspects of Leap: A Dragon's Adventure that players may never have seen before?

For me, the most unique and interesting aspect is the gameplay, I combined the very well-known Flappy Bird gameplay with an energy mechanic into a beautiful 3D world. You hold to go up using energy, release to go down, where momentum is your friend for energy efficiency, creating a never seen before exiting and engaging simple gameplay that can still prove a challenge.

I also made the game appeal not only to casual players but also to completionists and speedrunners. For the completionists, I carefully placed stars in some hard places to get. Where for the speedrunners, I made it easy to know the time of each level as well as having leaderboards for both.

Leap: A Dragon's Adventure is a casual platformer that is open and accessible to all. What made you choose this genre, and what do you think you bring to it that may not have been seen before?

One of the aspects that I love more about game development is level designing, and with platformers, you can do a lot of that. I also wanted to create a relaxing and exciting experience that many people would enjoy and I think we did a good job doing that with the mix of unique gameplay and atmosphere that Leap has.

How did you come to choose the platforms that you would develop Leap: A Dragon's Adventure for?

All my previous released games were on mobile, so I went with what I was already comfortable with and also because the mobile market is having a constant growth each year.

Looking at the studio now, how hard is it to survive as an Indie developer?

I can say that relying only on games to survive can be pretty hard, so having another way to bring revenue while making games on the side is probably be the best idea, and if one of your creations explodes, you can then give your all only to game development. 

What are your tips and advice for an independent developer who is just starting out?

Keep things simple, have patience, and most importantly have fun.

How did you find your experience pitching as a part of the Big Indie Pitch?

It was an enjoyable experience, talking about my game is always exciting for me. Everyone was amazing and got to meet very talented people.

Image credit: Rikzu Games

What do you feel you have gained from the experience, and what do you still hope to gain?

I got to improve my pitching skills, meet new people and get feedback which was invaluable. I also hope to gain more eyes on the game and maybe strike a publishing deal.

What are your hopes for this game in the future, and do you have any plans for any future projects?

I hope a lot of people give Leap: A Dragon's Adventure a try and feel the unique experience we were trying to achieve. We have many updates planned for the future, new worlds, exciting new modes (multiplayer battle royale, 2d perspective challenges), and events!

And for future projects, we're currently working on a new endless runner that will be released this year.

Want to show off your exciting new game? We host Big Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye out on our events page for an event near you, or even our new Digital pitches.

All our upcoming pitches including how to enter can be found over on our upcoming events page on

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Developer Evangelist & Big Indie Pitch Manager / Special Features Writer

Queen of all things Indie. Sophia is Steel Media’s Big Indie Pitch Manager and Developer Evangelist. She’s also a global speaker and lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she’s written a thesis on one and lived in the other.