Hey folks, we have a rather special interview for you all today. We recently got in touch with a content creator who creates some of the most incredible and creative circuits for Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. His name is Thomas Mutch and he owns the YouTube channel Mutch Games where he publishes videos of his circuits in action. When not designing racing circuits, he also does longplays of subscriber requested games and has worked creating assets for some of Nintendo’s E3 booths.
Miketendo46: Firstly, we would like to thank you for joining us for this interview. To start us off, would you care to introduce yourself and explain what you do?
Thomas: Hello, I’m Thomas Mutch. I’m 28 years old Californian and I’m a Mechanical Designer in the Entertainment Industry who also does YouTube on the side for my channel Mutch Games. I currently have 53k subscribers. I mostly do longplays of games that my subscribers request to bring them nostalgia but I also play modern games. Since I do this for fun, I don’t have a rigid video style so I just make the video I am in the mood for the most at that time. Recently I’ve dived deep into challenging myself to becoming the number 1 Mario Kart Live Course Maker. Professionally I’ve designed items for the likes of Disney, Universal, Nintendo, Coachella, Rose Parade, etc.
Miketendo64: How long have you been designing circuits for Mario Kart Live?
Thomas: I made my first course shortly after the game came out. My industry was shut down by our California Governor Gavin Newsom for over ¾ of a year by that point in time and I missed designing crazy projects. I was going a bit stir crazy at home so it was a perfect outlet for my creativity but since I wasn’t able to work because of the 11-month total shutdown I had to be a lot more careful with how much money I invested into these courses.
During the shutdown I created Mutch Games Raceway since I already had all of those games in my collection. Then I was seeing some decent courses online and saw that Mario Kart Maker made a papercraft Rainbow Road and BCN3D made a 3d printed SNES Rainbow Road. After seeing these I knew that I could do better, so I started planning out my own build to 1up both of these courses, but due to being unemployed at the time and having to carefully watch my bank balance, I made a rule for myself that has since carried on throughout my MK Live builds.
I could only use resources that an average person could acquire in their builds. Complete Geek TV had the same idea as me because they made an LED Rainbow Road the same week and theirs was fantastic. It took 2-3 days to make my SNES Rainbow Road and I could’ve wowed people with just the light effect but I wanted to push the boundary one step further by making the mechanized Thwomp obstacles. Since I made the Rainbow Road during December and it was well received, I did a quick turnaround by making my first Holiday course using all the Christmas decorations in the house to create Chill Chill Village. The only thing I bought was a lightbulb and the snowflake LEDs (which I only found because of the lightbulb store search and they added so much to course).
Every year in January I’m very involved in the creation of the Rose Parade floats, especially the animated props, but it was the first time since WW2 that the Rose Parade was cancelled. Since there was this void of lack of mechanisms for me to design during that time, I thought I’d try to 1up my SNES Rainbow Road and make my all-time favorite course and perhaps the most animate course in the Mario Kart universe… Baby Park. I had a week to build it and have I premiere on New Year’s Day. I ended up postponing my video by 1 day to Jan 2nd since I added some extra effects like the LEDs activating on the final lap and jumping spectators. It’s the course that I’m most proud of building.
Miketendo64: Would it be safe to say that your background has helped a lot in creating the circuits that you do?
Thomas: My professional experience has definitely helped me tune my creative eye since while designing these, I think about theme from the perspective of a theme park ride such as It’s a Small World. It was such a privilege to design many parts of Tokyo Disneyland’s It’s A Small World as my first professional design project after getting my Mechanical Engineering degree. The biggest influence on my work though is by far Cal Poly’s Rose Float program.
I worked on 4 floats while studying for my M.E. degree and learned how to design mechanisms and push boundaries of what’s possible in an art meets mechanical type of way like this Chameleon who “changed colors” using actual flowers. The extra benefit of learning how to design mechanisms for a Rose Parade float is because it has to be covered in organic materials afterwards so I learned how to deal with any type of constraints any client could throw my way in an efficient yet ascetically pleasing manner down the road during my career.
Miketendo64: As for your main profession, what have you created that people may be familiar with?
Thomas: I’ve designed parts of Nintendo’s E3 Booths, Animated and Stationary Props for Rides such as Tokyo Disneyland’s Small World, Concert show sets, floats, etc. (But as you’d understand I can’t say how we do it for the professional stuff). I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work on such a wide range of projects. A lot of hard work went into getting here and I thank God for blessing me.
Miketendo64: Where did you find inspiration to design your circuits?
Thomas: For courses based on the games, I play & watch gameplay of the courses over and over again countless times to see which are the most practical to make, or just my favorite courses overall. Even though Toad’s Turnpike isn’t my favorite course like Baby Park and SNES Rainbow Road, I chose to make it because of the wow effect of the self-driving cars. I thought that would be a good challenge to recreate and I’m happy with how it turned out.
For my Holiday courses I walked around the 99cent store, Walmart, Big Lots, Home Depot, etc seeing all their store displays for inspiration of what would look good and bought a ton of props to bring those Holidays to life. Rabbids do really well on my channel and it’s one of the franchises I try to focus on for my longplays and other content. I wanted to make a Rabbids-themed course and I had my upcoming Thanksgiving course to plan, so I merged the two since it’s the most chaotic time of the year and Rabbids bring chaos.
Before I even started planning my Halloween course, I actually had my Thanksgiving course layout done since I wanted to have the kart go through a giant Rabbid’s stomach. It actually worked pretty well since it actually gave a natural way to transition from eating at the dinner table with family to the black Friday section where the Rabbid shoppers would get trampled.
Miketendo64: What kind of materials and/or objects do you use to build your circuits?
Thomas: I try to only use materials that an average person would have access to where I can but for my 4th and final course in my YouTube Cup, I’m going heavy on 3d printing since I feel it’s a more common thing since so many households I know, own hobby printers and have used PLA 3d printed items in Baby Park, Egg Hunt Meadow, Rabbids’ Turkey Track, and my upcoming Spiral Mountain. The majority of the materials used on these courses are cardboard, hot glue, super glue, screws, PVC, wood, plato, feathers, cardstock paper, popsicle sticks, toothpicks, and miscellaneous props I buy or make
Miketendo64: Let’s talk about your latest project, the Spiral Mountain or “Banjo-Kazooie” circuit. Most of your previous circuits you built using materials you had to hand but for this project, you seem to be using a 3D printer to create the pieces yourself. Why did you start using a 3D printer to build your circuit and how has it been beneficial for you?
Thomas: I’ve used 3d printing on 4/9 of my courses but not to this scale. I decided to use 3d printing heavily on this one because I’m such a Banjo fan and wanted this to be perfect. It’s also very character heavy but not much merchandise if any available for a ton of these characters so by 3d printing I can make better looking characters than if I used clay. Also, most of my courses I design and build in under a week but I really wanted to take my time with this one since I wanted it to top all my past courses combined. It’s also going to be my largest to scale with the complexity of everything.
In addition, I like to add easter eggs to my courses so you never know when the next character will show up or which easter eggs I did in the past have yet to be revealed. For instance, the Thwomps from my 2nd courses SNES Rainbow Road were shopping in the Black Friday Section of Rabbids’ Turkey Track. I have a Super Circuit, MK Wii and a MKDS course I’ve been eyeing for after this one and I’ll probably use a bender board to create it instead of filament so I can make it an outdoor track.
Miketendo64: Do you create the designs you print yourself or do you download the files from the Internet?
Thomas: I’d estimate 98% of the designs I print, I create myself because they aren’t readily available models. I try to give credit when I use a model from someone else. I do get people like @Kahmakazi1 on twitter offer to help with modeling which I’m grateful for since I only have so much free time to do the modeling myself. There are also websites like Model Resource that I’ll use as a reference when creating a character model for scaling details or use as a base but those models and my 3d printer don’t play nice so I make my own model.
With this upcoming spiral mountain track I made a public offering that if people want to contribute to this passion project, they can create a drawing or 3d model to be used around the course. I try to let my audience participate in each of my modern courses. In Toad’s Turnpike they could create their own highway billboard that advertised their socials. Haunted Highway they got to create their own Haunted Mansion style graveyard quote. In Rabbids’ Turkey Track, they got to name their storefront for the Black Friday Section. For Spiral Mountain, I’m letting them create 3d models or 2d artwork of their favorite Rare LTD. franchises for the course.
Miketendo64: How close are you to finishing your latest project and do you have anything planned for the next big project?
Thomas: Right now I’m aiming for June 2022 and it looks like we’ll hit that unless something tragic happens like when my original printed Spiral Mountain got moved into the sun, but there’s still a ton of ideas I have that I want to bring to life.
Miketendo64: As we finish up, is there anything you would like to say to our readers and your fan base?
Thomas: If you want to participate in this passion project and submit artwork, please reach out to me. Also, I’d love to collab with a bigger Mario Kart/Banjo YouTuber so if you have any recommendations/know them please let me know. Also, who’s your favorite Rare character and which Mario Kart Course would you love to see brought to life. Check out my YouTube channel: Mutch Games. Thank you for having me Mike.
We hope you found our interview interesting. We would like to thank Thomas for taking part in our interview. If you would like to know more about Thomas Mutch, be sure to follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his YouTube channel Mutch Games.
Until next time, Keep On Gaming!