Let’s Interview: Mario Kart Wii YouTuber KevinVG207

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Let’s Interview: Mario Kart Wii YouTuber KevinVG207

Yes, we know what you’re probably think about now. Another gaming YouTuber interview already? Didn’t you just post one with the owner of Nintendo’s Cut Content with Dr Lava about three minutes ago?

Yes. Yes we did. But as hinted at in that article, we’ve got not one, but two new interviews up on Gaming Reinvented now, and this is that second interview.

And just like with the previous example, it’s also with another interesting upcoming Nintendo YouTuber we believe needs more attention online. Namely, Mario Kart Wii expert, challenge gamer and track creator KevinVG207.

This guy’s made videos showcasing the development of new custom tracks for the game, showcased all kinds of new custom tracks released in recent days and taken all kinds of interesting challenges to boot, with videos involving things like blindfold challenges and shortcut challenge attempts being fairly common across his channel.

In other words, he’s yet another gaming YouTuber we believe could become the next big thing some time in the near future.

So in a move that no one expected, we’ve decided to interview him right now. Starting with the standard question about his name and personal background…

1. First things first then Kevin. Who are you?

Hello, I’m KevinVG207 and I’m an 18 years old Mario Kart Wii YouTuber from the Netherlands.

2. Where did your username come from? The Kevin part is obvious, but what about the other one?

VG is actually short for my last name. 20 is taken from my birth year, 2000. And 7 is my favourite number.

3. Makes sense. Still, how did you get into gaming anyway?

Oh that’s a tough question already. I vaguely remember playing Lemmings on an old Amiga. Strangely enough those computers were already 15 years old when I was born. Playing old games seems to have been my dad’s hobby so I guess I picked that up at a young age.

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4. What about Mario Kart? Did you have much experience with the games prior to Mario Kart Wii?

I only played Mario Kart DS before the Wii version came out. But man, did I play that game to death. Granted, I wasn’t very good at it due to my young age at the time, but I still like MKDS more than Mario Kart 8.

5. Regardless, it’s Mario Kart Wii that you’re known for most now. What’s your history with that game?

I don’t quite remember that well, but I probably started playing the game mid-2008. I was only eight years old at the time. I used to visit my aunt because she owned a Nintendo Wii, whereas we didn’t have one at home yet.

6. What about with the modding scene for it? What was your introduction to CTGP and custom tracks?

Somewhere in 2010 I came across the Custom Mario Kart Wiiki where Mario Kart Wii hackers and modders came together to share their findings and where new custom tracks were released. In 2011 I started to make my own custom tracks for the game, if you could call it that. None of my attempts really worked, but I learnt a lot about how the game works. The very first method for creating custom tracks was to use Microsoft paint or another image editing program, and basically create grayscale heightmaps as geometry. Suffice it to say, my 11 year old self couldn’t really make things work.

As modding progress was being made on the Wiiki, someone made an export plugin for this 3d modelling program called Google Sketchup. I picked that up and mid-2011 I released my first custom track, named ‘Easy’. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that my level of English wasn’t fantastic yet haha.

Last year I decided to play my first ever custom track again in a video, after I had basically forgotten about it.

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As for CTGP, well I only started playing that custom track distribution in 2012, when it already reached version 1.02 and it included about 180 or so custom tracks. I really appreciate the work that MrBean35000vr and Chadderz (the creators of the pack) put into not only CTGP, but also everything else with regard to custom track creation. It were their tools that were used in the early days of CT making and I don’t know where we would’ve been without them. Respect to them.

7. The Mario Kart Wii modding scene has certainly improved a lot over the years, with custom tracks getting more interesting every year. So what are some of the best ones you’ve ever seen?

Oh yeah, the quality of CTs have improved massively over the years. We went from blocky tracks made with paint to basically Nintendo quality graphics with newer 3d modelling programs.

The two German CT creators Sniki and Sucht93a are considered some of the best CT creators by many (including me). I really like Sucht’s Dragonite’s Island track. It’s styled after the Pokémon games and includes many enemies reskinned to look like actual Pokémon.

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8. Any tracks that don’t really hold up these days?

Most custom tracks made in the ‘paint era’ don’t really look nor play that well, especially compared to today’s custom tracks. However, Incendia Castle and the dreaded Mushroom Peaks (both created by the brothers MrBean and Chadderz) still get played often even in today’s Custom Track Worldwide matches.

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9. Another thing that’s interesting is how Mario Kart Wii mods aren’t just about tracks and characters now, we also have things like custom missions being implemented too. What are your thoughts on that?

I think it’s really cool that we can now use some unfinished and unused game modes in the game. Even though online tournaments were a thing, MKWii lacked the great mission mode from MKDS. Now we can basically recreate that experience in Mario Kart Wii. Once again, custom missions were made possible by MrBean and Chadderz. (Can you tell why I have so much respect for these two?)

10. Similarly, what impressive mods and additions in that vein have you seen recently?

Remember those online tournaments with their own leaderboards? Well they are still being hosted every two weeks on the custom server Wiimmfi. I never did get to play these competitions when it was possible years ago, so it is really cool to play them now, including some custom made competitions.

11. Onto YouTube now. What made you decide to start a channel?

Back in 2011, I made some very bad 3d track models in Sketchup. My 11 year old self thought it would be cool to show these models to the world, and that’s where it started. I didn’t really upload actively until 2015. Until then my channel was just a place to showcase things I had created.

Here’s my first ever video uploaded on the channel. (Excuse me for the terrible video quality and bad English haha)

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12. And I’m guessing you were more than a little inspired by TWD98, what with the road to 9999VR stuff and all…

This is actually a comment I used to receive a lot back when I restarted my road to 9999vr series earlier this year. Yes, I meant to use ‘restarted’. You see, the “road to 9999vr” concept has been around for basically as long as the game’s been released. Back in 2015 I started my own road to 9999vr series, but ended it that same year because I ragequit the series.

Skip ahead to 2017, when my YT channel started to slightly increase due to another YouTuber shouting me out (*ahem* TroyWD89), and indeed somewhat inspired by TWD98, I decided to turn my Custom Track Worldwide video series into a road to 9999vr and so I picked up this old series again, years later.

13. Either way, did you two ever arrange a time for the shortcut challenge yet? I do remember hearing from Troy that you’d be someone he’d want to see attempt it…

In fact, we have! A few months ago, Troy invited me and MayroSMM (another Nintentuber) to attempt his intermediate difficulty shortcut challenge! This turned out to be pretty tricky because we were all in a different time zone haha.

The challenge can be found here, on Troy’s channel:

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14. Another type of video you make quite often are other types of challenge videos, like trying to figure out what track you’re on blindfolded. What inspired you to try these types of videos?

Well, one day I was thinking of new video ideas and I was inspired by speedrunners who complete entire games blindfolded. I decided to try that while I played Mario Kart Wii (custom) tracks. It was a lot more difficult than I had imagined, but I came up with some strategies along the way. For example: I use Lakitu to my advantage, because he shows up when you’re going the wrong way.

15. Any ideas for other challenges like that?

Not at this point in time. I will have to come up with new things in the future to please YouTube’s algorithms hehe.

16. Still, let’s talk about something else now. Recently you attempted the missions from the Variety Pack, a mod of Mario Kart Wii with a unique mission mode. What did you think about those anyway?

Variety pack uses the unused mission mode features and combines it with the custom tracks that we have. It’s really fun (and often times difficult) to try and complete the challenges! I think there’s a lot of potential in challenges on custom tracks. However, I haven’t seen a custom track made specifically for a mission yet.

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17. Are you hoping other mod packs do something similar?

Absolutely! After years of playing normal races (and battle mode), having something like this is very refreshing and I hope other custom track distributions will incorporate mission mode in the future.

18. And what are the chances you’ll return to that Variety Pack when it’s updated? I think I recall the creators replying in the comments about how they’d take your experiences/feedback into account when rebalancing/redesigning parts of it…

Yes, the creators of the pack mentioned that they’re reworking the entirety of mission mode in fact. I really liked their missions (although they weren’t without problems) and if they release an entire new set, I’ll be sure to attempt those as well.

19. You also make quite a few showcase for videos for custom tracks in general. How do you choose which tracks you’re going to cover here?

There really isn’t much to choosing the tracks in my community showcase series. I do prioritize new CT creators and people who already appeared in the past.

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20. Have you ever picked a track you thought wouldn’t be all that great, but ended up pleasantly surprised by it?

In Community CT Showcase episode 2, I played a track called Dinner Dash, created by ANoob. It was his first ever custom track, and the track itself was a dinner table with all kinds of objects that you can drive on, trick off or act as walls. Although it was unfinished and had a few problems, it is one of the most unique tracks I have ever seen.

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21. What about the opposite? Any tracks with promise you felt didn’t live up to their potential?

I played a submission that was a remake of a very old custom track, Chomp Valley. I won’t mention the creators’ names, but the track was just as flat and uneventful as the original, albeit more smoothed out. (The original was one of those old paint-created tracks, you see.) It even had a wall you could easily get stuck on for a long time.

22. Your Discord server users seem to provide quite a few interesting tracks too. Are there any people there you think could be the next big thing in Mario Kart Wii modding?

I think Riidefi is a good candidate for “the next big thing” like you call it haha. He knows a lot about the game’s handling of graphics, and has helped plenty of custom track creators getting proper shadows implemented. If he ever creates an entire track by himself, it will probably look fantastic.

23. On the other hand, do you ever feel a bit conflicted when a user’s level just isn’t that good? Seems like it might be hard to say to someone who’s been a fan for a while that their level is a broken mess that’s not all that fun to play…

There have been a few entries in the track submission form that were created by seemingly very young people, and thus they look and play so poorly that I excluded them from the actual video. But as I mentioned before, I too started with very ugly tracks that didn’t work. But that shouldn’t get you down. Practice makes perfect and I hope that these people will be able to create good custom tracks in the future.

24. Either way, you’ve also made a few videos about your own levels and the process you go through to create them. What inspired you to do that?

One of my favourite custom track creators (who unfortunately retired) is BigOto. He created some fantastic looking custom tracks for their time. His tracks like Halogen Highway, Thunder City and Volcanic Skyway are still available in CTGP to this day. He uploaded a time-lapse of the creation of the Halogen Highway custom track back in 2012.

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As I wanted to start working on a new custom track, I thought it’d be interesting to talk while doing so to explain my ideas and such. After a few episodes I realized that I was way better at making progress when I wasn’t talking, so I turned to making timelapses of the process instead (inspired by BigOto) and explain my ideas over the timelapses.

25. And do you wish other creators would film YouTube videos about this sort of thing? Like, to see what their level/game design process is like?

Absolutely. I think I can learn a lot of things from others through the way they might attempt something. I am still learning small modelling tips that I wish I knew years ago, because they would’ve saved me a lot of time.

26. Another popular video you made was about an early version of Bowser’s Castle found within Mario Kart Wii’s files. How did you find out about that?

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Riidefi once mentioned that he had written a program to convert the early version of Bowser’s Castle to a workable 3d model format. The source file ‘course.0’ had been known for a really long time, but strangely enough nobody had made the track properly playable in the game. For the next week, riidefi and I worked on getting the track playable, which included a lot of tedious copy and pasting of coordinates. But it was all worth it in the end, as the video detailing it has now received over 700 thousand views.

27. Have you found anything else interesting in the files of other games? Or just Mario Kart Wii in general?

I haven’t found much in game files myself, but I am very interested in beta/unused content hidden in game files. I spent so much time on The Cutting Room Floor (a wiki with lots of documentation on unused game files), you wouldn’t believe it!

28. Regardless, let’s start to wrap this up with some final questions now. Firstly, what other YouTube channels do you recommend?

Obviously, I would recommend checking out TWD98’s channel. I’ve been a fan since 2010!

Secondly, if you’re interested in Mario Kart Wii custom tracks, I recommend checking out Sawyer. He uploads showcases of the best new custom tracks among other things.

Also make sure to check out MrBean35000vr’s channel!

And if you’re interested in hidden/unused content in video games like me, I suggest checking out Beta64 too!

29. Any interesting plans for videos (or other channels) in future?

I’ve got an idea for an interesting livestream written down on my digital sticky note. It has me playing Mario Kart Wii online but in a way that viewers in the chat can interfere with my controls by typing commands. This will require a lot of technical setup and I’m not sure if I’ll get this working any time soon.

30. Finally, what advice would you give someone who wants to start their own channel and why?

Show your creations, and just make sure to have fun with it! That’s what brought me where I am today.

Thank you for allowing me to participate in this interview!

No, thank you for taking part! It’s always fascinating to hear what creators have to say about their work, regardless of whether they’re YouTube channel owners, game designers/developers or other people involved in the gaming community.

And that’s why Gaming Reinvented hosts these interviews to begin with. We want to go beyond the big sites and big names. Go beyond yet another Shigeru Miyamoto or Reggie Fils Aime interview and find out what the little guys have to say about their own efforts too.

We want to show the world that it’s not just the rich and famous with interesting tales to tell, and that the gaming community consists of more than the well-known and connected.

So thanks to KevinVG207 for the great interview, and for everyone else, rest assured that more interviews just like this one will be posted on Gaming Reinvented in the weeks, months and years to come.

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