Spotlight: Trey Smith Interview – Buildbox Founder with 65 Million Downloads

In this special Spotlight episode, Kevin sits down with Buildbox CEO and Founder, Trey Smith.

Trey began his game building journey back in 2011 with the launch of Kolo’s Journey where he met and hired now Buildbox CTO Nik Rudenko.

This was the beginning of the hugely popular Game Building company that is now Buildbox, along with a wildly successful Mobile Gaming business which has now amassed well over 65 Million downloads. Securing multiple publishing deals with the Giant Publisher Ketchapp.

Trey talks openly about the struggles of setting up both companies, the systems set up to ensure the company runs as smoothly as possible and how researching, learning and re-engineering is most likely his greatest skills.

From moving Nik and his family over from the Ukraine to the US to becoming a pro at hiring only the best people, he explains how by stepping back from micro managing the company has increased output dramatically.

More personally, his discusses his dreams of becoming a DJ when he moved over to the UK to ultimately starting Game Academy a training website with software.

Trey shares his game design process, his tips on how to, and what exactly is, polishing your game along with his secret for securing a major publishing deal for any mobile game that you make.

Resources & Takeaways:

Buildbox Game Building Software


Scaling Up

Crossing The Chasm

E-Myth Revisited


006: The Top 16 mistakes that most new game developers make

In this episode, we compiled our Top 16 mistakes that we see many new game developers make when first starting out.

We break down each part we identified and discuss what to look out for and how avoid these common game development pitfalls when you’re learning how to build, design and structure your games.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

  • Cloning existing games way too closely
  • Buying stock and mix and matching artwork / styles
  • Making your game too big & too complicated
  • Creating your game characters too big / Over Scaled
  • Aiming for ultimate perfection and getting lost in the small stuff
  • Your Game speed is either too slow, or too fast
  • Project surfing – Shiny Object syndrome
  • Making your game way too difficult / too easy
  • Getting feedback, show people your game early on in development
  • Trying to run before you can walk – GTA versus Pong
  • Getting too good at, & falling in love with your own game
  • Trying to please everyone, not the demographic of the game
  • Feature creep – adding so many features that it over complicates the game
  • Expecting knock out success with your first game
  • Ad Overload
  • Assuming people will care about your game

Links mentioned in this Episode:

Super Mario Run




005: How to come up with the perfect name for your next hit game.

Naming your game can be super tricky! Coming up with that all encompassing killer title can waste hours and have you scratching your head trying to settle on that perfect branding.

This episode covers the importance of coming up with a name that truly reflects the nature and tone of your game. Your game title should completely set your potential players expectations before they even download it, and how a mismatch here can lead to disappointment. Using some online tools to aid in your research along with some things to consider for ASO purposes.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

  • Your game name should match the theme and tone of the gameplay
  • Start with the motion, goals or mechanics of your game
  • 2 Word “Rhyming” titles are usually best for “Fun / Silly / Arcade” games
  • Misspelling or adding punctuation marks can get you close if your name has been taken
  • Use online Thesaurus sites like for ideas and inspiration
  • Reserve your name inside iTunesConnect to ensure you’ve secured it

004: Game level design Tips, Tricks & Ideas. Overcoming creative block.

What happens when you’re all out of ideas when designing levels in your game? I’ve done the platform that moves left to right, I’ve done the platform going up and down, now what can I do? What can I do to overcome my creative block?

In this episode, we sit down and go through some of our techniques, along with some resources that we use to pull from when the creative juices just aren’t flowing. Using a combination of all these tactics should mean you’ll never get stuck again.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

  • Take time away from the project, fresh eyes and a break often does wonders
  • Browse Youtube for similar games in your genre and watch a “Let’s Play” stream
  • Watching gameplay rather than playing enables you to see things differently
  • Look at the classics in your genre, borrow from the masters – Do NOT copy!
  • Introduce a new mechanic / enemy / character / world into your game
  • Go play some games!
  • Get feedback from your networks / social media. Make sure you state you’re looking for help

003: How long does it take to develop and make a mobile indie game?

How long is a piece of string when it comes to figuring out how much time you need to put aside to make, develop and actually ship your new indie game?

In this episode, we reveal our process for setting internal deadlines and timescales when we start to make one of our “snackable” casual mobile games. It will always depend on the overall size and scope of the game you’re building, which is something to consider in the very early planning stages, and can really influence the overall games content.

Will you make a level based game or an endless random game? Will you have characters to collect? If so, how many is the least amount you could actually launch with?

These core decisions early on can be the difference between 6 weeks and 6 months.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

  • Setting deadlines is crucial to actually complete your game
  • We head for a 6 week turnaround time
  • Set aside dedicated, focussed time to work on your project
  • Allow 4-6 weeks to pitch the Appstore Feature Teams
  • Building endless / randomly generated games are the quickest type to make
  • Keep the amount of characters down to a minimum to launch with
  • Re-evaluate the timescale after a few days of building
  • Save all the “nice to have” content for future updates
  • Take the deadline serious, even if you go over, you’ll still be further along

002: Graphic direction, where to buy art packs & the 4 pillars of style.

Your game needs graphics, well yeah, go figure! But what style do you choose for your game and what happens if you’re no digital Picasso?

In this episode, we chat about ensuring the art direction of your game matches the mood and feel correctly. Where to go online if you’re looking to purchase game art, backgrounds and game packs. What are the 4 most tried and tested art styles that consistently get featured by Apple in “New Game We Love” and why if you choose one of these, you’re more likely to get noticed.

Thinking outside the norm when it comes to outsourcing and where to go if you’re looking for a freelancer. Regardless if it’s a one-off commission or perhaps you’re looking to take on a full-time game artist, finding someone to create ongoing bespoke art can be tricky.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

  • Why you must be in love with whatever style you choose
  • Look at the Appstore for Trends and Featured Games
  • Voxel, Flat, Polygon and Pixel are the 4 pillars of style
  • Look for art packs that are big enough for your project
  • See if you can easily modify packs yourself to extend the value
  • Learn basic digital art skills to save you money
  • Visit and to source artists
  • Match art style with the theme and mood of your game
  • Be consistent throughout your game in the overall style
  • Graphics need to be high quality, period.

Links to Resources mentioned in this Episode:

Online Management tools:



Where to buy game art, characters and game design packs:

Graphic River


Games on the Appstore:

Old Mans Journey

Splitter Critters

Lara Croft Go


Monument Valley

001: Effective Prototyping Tips & why you should be documenting.

How do you start prototyping your fresh new game idea. Having that awesome vision in your head is all well and good, but you need to start making it a reality, it needs to come alive!

We discuss all the ways that we set about prototyping our games and, although probably somewhat unconventional, why we want to get this stage moving as fast as possible. Almost exclusively starting with our trusty pencils and sketchbooks, we try and roughly draw something iconic from our minds eye, be it a general look of a level or perhaps even a character, just something to visualise before heading straight into our development tool, Buildbox.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

  • Create a mood board as a reference point for the whole project
  • Use pen and paper to quickly draw a level or character
  • Get into your development software / tool as fast as possible
  • Use existing graphics to get you started, don’t be fancy
  • Focus on the feel of the mechanics
  • Embrace the “Happy Accidents” that may arise
  • Try to get one complete level / screen before giving up!
  • Export a build onto your device as soon as you have a straw man demo
  • Start screen casting or take screenshots from the very beginning
  • Share early dev insights on social to get some interest / feedback

000: Introduction, finding inspiration & coming up with game ideas.

So you want to make a game, but what sort of game should you make and how do you come up with new game ideas? In this our pilot episode of the podcast, we answer this, by far the most common question we get asked.

After a brief introduction of who we are here at RisingHigh, we dive straight in and start breaking down how we go about getting our new game ideas, where we draw inspiration from and our roundabout process on how our concepts come to life. It’s a very organic process, but through various sources we can merge genres, fuse ideas and create something we can put our own unique spin on.

Highlights, Quick Wins & Takeaways:

  • Using the Appstore to see what is hot in the current market, Top 100 Free Games
  • Data mine reviews for customer insights
  • Browse Game Jam Sites for unusual Game Ideas
  • Look at art installations and architecture
  • Be present in your environment, get out and about and be open to the world around you
  • The Featured Games that Apple showcases each week
  • Online gaming sites
  • Game Fusion – Merging Genres to create a new take on existing proven mechanics
  • Research the Biggest Publishers on the Appstore and look at their bestsellers

Links & Resources mentioned in this Episode:

Beat Street