How do DIY tattoos and a lifetime of an affirmative rallying cry make for a long-lasting BMX game series?
While it’s not quite relevant to his line of side-scrolling BMX games, Adam Hunt has a stick and poke tattoo on his foot. For the uninformed, of which I was one until talking to Hunt, a stick and poke tattoo can be summed up as a DIY tattoo. As Hunt recounts, his tattoo was the result of a 4 a.m. decision to get a crude “Yeah us!” inked on his foot. How does that connect to his Switch debut Pumped BMX Pro? His one-man band of a studio is called Yeah Us! Games, inspired by his body art credo.
Yeah Us! is already a misnomer because Hunt’s the only person there. He works with freelancers but the full-time crew of the seven-year-old company has only ever been one man: himself. “Yeah Us!” has been his rallying cry, with origins to his own experience riding bikes in the mid-2000s, as he and his friends would shout it as they found trails and spots to ride.
His path to game development was guided by an affection for BMX bikes. In his late teens, he messed around with a game called Dirt Bike, a simplistic course creator where players could make craft their own tracks and bikes. Hunt experimented with it, trying to brute-force BMX bikes into the dirt bike mold, but alas - no tricks could be done in this bicycle game.
As he moved on into his 20s, he eventually wound up teaching English on the French island of Reunion, just off the coast of Madagascar, because well, “Yeah Us!” He came across Tiny Wings on his phone and it brought up memories of his time with Dirt Bike. “I decided enough was enough - I was going to learn to program!” Hunt recalled. “Mainstream game engines and frameworks were just becoming a thing, so I started with a framework called Corona then quickly moved to Cocos2D.”
His spare time went to learning how to create a game, and after around a year, he had a game: Pumped BMX. It hit mobile platforms in 2012. A sequel came out two years later that met lots of success, because “Yeah Us!”
The transition to game development changed a little bit of Hunt’s BMX riding time. “I do still get out on my BMX occasionally, but nowhere near as much as I'd like to,” He told us. After riding a BMX for basically every day over the course of 15 years, his ankles and knees are shot. For the curious, Hunt detailed his current bike: “I currently run a BSD Passenger frame with Cult freecoaster rear, G-Sport front, Odyssey Thunderbolt cranks ... and loads of other bits. It's not as easy as a saying what deck/trucks/wheels/bearings you run!”
I’ll admit: my knowledge of the BMX space is limited to old Dave Mirra games. I dabbled in mountain biking on predetermined trails sometimes, so I foolishly asked him about what trails he liked. He then told me lots of trails are secret. Secret trails are collaborative efforts by riders, taking “hundreds and hundreds of hours to build and maintain.”
“There'a whole etiquette system around them - for example some trails will have a 'no dig no ride' policy, which means if you don't help build, you can't ride,” he explained. “If you case a landing (land short), it's only polite to grab a shovel and fix any damage. And littering is a serious no-no. Basically trails riders are generally f*cking awesome people.”
Even as his riding career is more limited, Hunt’s been busy making BMX games. Pumped BMX+ was his console debut, hitting Wii U, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Vita in 2015. That’s when he started working with Curve Digital, who have been a “lifesaver” according to Hunt. Console submission can be a thorny challenge especially for mobile-first developers so having an experienced outfit like Curve to assist is always a boon. Pumped BMX 3 followed that in 2016 and now his latest, Pumped BMX Pro is about to debut on Switch (among other platforms). It’s the first time he’s been able to put in everything he’s wanted to, with a new physics engine and much more content.
The “Yeah Us!” attitude will continue past Pumped BMX Pro, as Hunt’s currently working on a new BMX game, though he was cagey about any further details. He did muse about how Mario “would probably throw a sick barspin” and that Bowsette would be a good fit on a BMX. Because Yeah Us!