Casual Kiwi YGO
by The Casual Kiwi
Kia ora kotou,
What follows is the behind the scenes timeline of the Casual Kiwi ARG (The Series) that I have been working on over the past three years. This series at time of writing is still ongoing, so some spoiler information will be just for Nick, but I wish to put my cards on the table (so to speak) as much as I can.
This is not a story synopsis, but it will reveal a lot of the behind the scenes details of the series. If you want to keep full immersion, this is a warning that it may be best to read through the rest of this document after the duels between Casual Kiwi and his vengeful undead partner Silent M has reached an ultimate end.
Being a creator with a foot in two very niche fields (Yu-Gi-Oh! Card game content and Alternate Reality Games (ARG)) it was tough starting out. At times I felt like I didn’t belong to either group fully. I could never really be sure if my content would have an audience. Dark Yugitubing is considered a meme by most, and finding others who were trying to make similar content was a challenge.
For me, Dark Yugitubing is Yu-Gi-Oh! Content with a mystery or horror focus, that usually has an interactive element. It asks the question of what would happen if the horrors present in the shadow games of the anime came into our world.
For most reading, this next part will be common sense, but I would feel remiss not to mention it. I phrase this prior definition as a ‘what if’ because it is still fictional. If you are putting yourself in harm's way to shock your audience, you are simply being a fool, nothing more. You don’t want people to feel bad for watching what you make.
Re-imagining the fundamental absurdity of anime shadow games in a way that feels real is a massive part of what it means to make this sort of content. This is what helps most in making it thrilling for an audience and creatively rewarding for the maker. Suspension of disbelief can get particularly funky once card game shadow magic gets involved, but it is well worth preserving.
ARG making in general can be a very lonely process. There were definitely times when it was difficult to persevere. This was only eased by being so lucky as to have the support of my amazing girlfriend throughout, who plays the enigmatic Silent M in the series (I assure you she is a much more wholesome person in real life than the character she portrays!) as well as the support of the awesome people over in the Team Casual Discord.
I don’t want others to feel alone in their creative efforts. This document should be helpful for other creators who wish to peek behind the curtain, in order to aid them in exploring the dark heart of the cards.
The term Dark Yugitubing is coined by Rank10YGO in his Ojama Archetype Archive video. While very much used as a meme here, it popularized the term, and only hinted at what Dark Yugitubing actually refers to. I noticed that not a lot of content at all had been made that would fit such a term well.
Initial brainstorm and planning for the Series.
I created a word document that outlined the basic aspects of the Series.
I researched other alternate reality games. Major influences at this stage were my Dad’s Tapes and Everyman Hybrid. I also took minor inspiration from FNAF when it came to the codes. I watched ARG coverage channels, such as Night Mind and Inside a Mind.
I looked into a range of Yu-Gi-Oh! Content Creators, especially into deck profiles. I noticed most deck profiles were only good until a banlist came for garnering views. I hoped that by having a story and mystery elements, this would give people a reason to revisit older content. Most content also lacked a narrative through line.
The plan I made included two codes that would be important for the End Game. I needed these to be figured out now, as I wanted them to be present from the very beginning of the series, and pay off towards the end.
The first code (Sleeve Code) was a Vigenère cipher, consisting of the first letters of cards put in special blue sleeves. The key for decoding the cipher would require the decoder to use a word relevant to the Casual Kiwi. Each deck profile would contain at least one blue sleeved card.
The second code (Dice Code) was original, and required the pairing of dice numbers together to get episode titles of the duel monsters series. The first letters of these episodes would spell out a word. Each deck profile would contain at least one Die.
I chose to use these codes because I felt if the codes were too basic, people would chuck them into an online decoder and solve them too easily. In retrospect simpler codes may have been better, I definitely should have used a pre-existing format for the Dice Code. I also should have tested out these codes more before committing to them.
I chose the name Casual Kiwi, as there are not that many New Zealand ARG creators or Yugitubers. In Lovecraft lore, New Zealand is also one of the closest ports to the resting place of Cthulhu.
There were only two cards with Kiwi in the name (the national bird of New Zealand), so I went with the Kiwi Magician Girl, as the other choice was Watt Kiwi with a light bulb for a butt. Having a Magician as an Avatar would also help with introducing the more supernatural elements of the series.
My initial estimate was that with 10 deck profiles, followed by a duel series with those decks, that the Series would take about a year to a year and a half to complete.
July - August 2018
Purchasing materials for the series and creating social media accounts.
I purchased a GoPro Hero 5 Black for the series. I felt the GoPro would give the series a unique look, and would be cheaper than a camera. Can’t remember the exact cost, but it was between $100 and $150 NZD.
I already had two decks available to kick off the series. They were budget decks, and probably cost around $50 NZD each. All the decks in the series cost between $50 and $100 NZD.
I got the play mat I used in most videos from a friend for around $50 NZD.
Dice for the series for $20 NZD.
Gloves and cloak for Silent M, $43 NZD.
The mask was $67 NZD.
I could have got something cheap but I wanted to use a mask that was unique and would have disturbing implications. We went with an adult gimp bondage mask/hood for sensory deprivation. This was very much inspired by My Dad’s Tapes.
I bought a life membership of Wondershare Filmora for making content. I believe it was $100 NZD. Along with the GroPro, this was my best investment, and I use Filmora to make my videos to this day.
I also created an ‘intro’ for my videos, I made this in a free version of Adobe After Effects.
There were various other costs such as sleeves for the decks, a lamp I used for the profiles etc. but the above were the initial major expenses.
I created a twitter for the Casual Kiwi in July, and a twitter for Silent M in August.
I created the Casual Kiwi Youtube channel at the end of August.
I primarily planned to use twitter and Youtube for the series, though I would also create a curious cat, a tumblr, an instagram, a reddit account and once posted to the 4Chan /x/ board.
September 2018 - Launch
I wanted to keep complete immersion, and gradually increase the unsettling elements as the series progressed, like the boiling frog analogy.
I did not consider a Trailhead funnily enough. I thought a trailer would break immersion. In retrospect I wish I had used an in character trailer, as it would become difficult to recommend a place for people to start the series.
The first video went up on the 1st of September. It included code elements, but was otherwise a normal deck profile.
The same is true of the second video on the 14th of September.
I was very much testing the waters with these two videos, and they are an admittedly slow starting point. The idea was to see if I could create solid deck profiles first.
Beginning of using subtitles
Around the end of September I discovered Daisy Brown and am impressed by her use of subtitles to convey information covertly.
On the 1st of November is the first video using subtitles. From this point on Silent M is listed as the Editor for story reasons. While she is ‘silent’ on camera, she is vocal in the subtitles. This will be the case for all future deck profiles, and some special videos as well.
My lamp broke off it’s stand while recording this video. It was a great opportunity for Silent to call out Kiwi for Lying to the audience about this, though It would complicate my setup as I figured out how to light the profile properly.
On November 24th the fourth deck profile was released. As well as the subtitles, we get a look at Silent M’s hand, stealing a blue sleeved card. This was the first time a commenter noticed that something was strange, noticing the hand. They referred to Silent as a demon, though I discouraged this view, as I wanted Silent to be seen as more of a sympathetic villain, than pure evil.
I found during this period that the people most receptive to me were fellow small Yu-Gi-Oh! Content creators on twitter. While there was not a large Yu-Gi-Oh! community on twitter yet, there were a number of friendly small creators who were open to collaboration.
I was a little nervous around this, because most channels don’t have hidden story elements to them and I didn’t want to get other creators involved in my ARG without their knowledge. At the same time I didn’t want to break the immersion of Kiwi being ‘from our world’ in universe by separating myself out from the character unless absolutely necessary. My compromise was to not put any hidden elements in videos that involved cross collaboration with other Yugitubers.
On December 10th, the 5th deck profile comes out, alongside duel replays on my channel and on my fellow yugitubers channel.
For the 5th deck profile I moved the appearance of Silent’s hand to earlier in the video to see if it gets more attention, but it is not commented on this time.
By January 2019 I am halfway through the deck profiles of my series.
To reduce cost and to increase the thematic distinction between those decks that will be used by Kiwi and those that will be used by Silent, I decide that half the decks will use the lair of darkness archetype, and the other half will use the Timelord archetype. These are great archetypes to use throughout, as not only do they have good/evil connotations, but they also are splashable archetypes, meaning they can be built in multiple different ways without losing their effectiveness.
At this point I am still under 100 subscribers, but the 4th and 5th deck profiles did reasonably well, each hitting around 1K views.
I am also gaining friends through twitter who are helping get the word out about my content, however I am still trying to get the notice of the ARG community.
At this point I go to visit my family for the holidays, and use it to brainstorm for what is to come. I have an ambitious idea about how to make the mystery element of the profiles stand out more, by having Silent M’s hand burst out from beneath the table at the end of the deck profile. I also plan to add online gameplay footage showcasing Silent M dueling at the beginning.
I return back home and begin getting ready for the profile. Gameplay footage is captured fine, but the hand bursting out of the table proves tricky.
I have to balance the play mat between two tables, with a sheet of plastic extending between them. Cuts made in it allow Silent to push her hand through. To hide this we stage it to look like the art on a popular card where an accusing hand pops out of the earth. We cover the plastic with fertilizer, and place ‘worms’ around the hole to add some grossness. We didn’t actually know where to get worms for this, so instead we purchased a squid, and cut off tentacles to look like pale worms.
Most profiles have a fixed camera, but this one I had to do hand held, and with all the set up unfortunately certain details like using sleeves that would look good on camera were overlooked. It’s definitely one of the worst looking profiles we made on the channel, despite the pay off in the final part of the video.
The 6th profile finally goes live on February 28th.
The deck being profiled contains several cards that coincidentally had shot up hugely in value and competitive viability, so the video thankfully does well despite the overall video being rather rough around the edges. I think youtubers are doomed to always have their worst work do the best, as this video was the first on the channel to break 3K views.
There were also several collaborations showcasing what this deck can do, but none pertained to the ARG.
All deck profiles from this point forward show gameplay footage at the beginning.
April 1st video.
A friend of mine wondered if he could showcase his deck on the channel. I didn’t want to have too much content that wasn’t connected to the ARG, so I agreed but explained I’d have to tie him into the context of the story, which he was fine with. His character was Meta Sheep 420, and the subtitles imply that him and Kiwi were being watched by Silent M, and it is canonical that Meta Sheep goes missing following him seeing Silent M sitting behind Kiwi.
This would eventually evolve into almost a B plot to the main story.
June 3rd video for 7th deck profile.
Toned back from the ambition of the 6th profile to ensure filming looks good. Put out a challenge to create decks with a similar focus, called the cup of ace challenge. Plan was to get more eyes on the profile, and at least one other creator took the challenge.
More collaborations with content creators showcasing the deck.
Hit the 100 subscribers milestone. Did a Q&A video with another yugituber on their channel.
Unfortunately as I am at University at the time, this is affecting the pace at which new deck profiles are being created.
Scripting, as well as deck buying/building takes a lot of time and creative energy. Instead I look to do some supplementary content.
July 14th is another guest upload from a friend of mine, who coincidentally was wearing a Cthulhu T-Shirt on the day.
With the subtitles we tied it into the Meta Sheep upload, with this friend being concerned about his disappearance. We also filmed it so that Silent M is sitting in the background of the shot with her hooded back to the camera. This is the first video where Silent M is visible beyond her hands.
July 20th guest upload by a fellow yugioh creator, featuring card lore I felt would work well to parallel with the series.
One year anniversary of the channel, and I wanted to do something special.
The First Anniversary abduction arc begins with Kiwi disappearing on the Anniversary.
Over this month, I purchased three boxes of Yu-Gi-Oh! product to open (two on the channel, one as practice). I had also received some playing cards for my birthday which were themed around death, so I included these in the planning.
I scouted out a route for which I would run through the city while recording. I wanted to convey a chase scene completely through audio, and for the route chosen to have distinctive audio along the route.
I then did the run at 3pm at night to avoid foot traffic.
I purchased zip ties as well as fake blood and a small folding table.
I attempted to get permission to film on location for a video, however I failed to reach someone who could give me the proper permissions, so we filmed that scene in our garage.
The fake blood also proved unconvincing, so I purchased venison meat to get blood, but this was also unconvincing, so we settled for a grimy look rather than a bloody one.
On September 29th the anniversary special comes up. It is a pack opening with a secret link to a second video entitled KIWI RETURNS?! TEAM SILENT PRESENTS ENTRY 40. This would later be released as a separate official upload.
This was the first video to get some attention from the ARG community, mostly in the form of comments on the video and on reddit.
This was the first video to confirm that a third party was a player in the story, and to strongly imply that Silent had been brought back from the dead.
I also received my first fan art for the casual kiwi leading up to this. I always love to see other creators interpret my work, so I endeavor to always thank the artists I later commissioned for the series, and anyone who submitted fan art.
Abduction arc concludes with the upload of another pack opening on the 16th of October.
This time it is shot in a dimly lit garage, with Kiwi wearing zip ties on his thumbs and with Silent across from him. This is the first time Silent M is seen from the front.
This video was difficult as it was the first where Silent M had to wear the mask for an extended period of time on camera. We also only had one box of product for this video, so if something went wrong we wouldn’t easily be able to do a second take.
Half way through my girlfriend had to take a break as the mask was too hot, and safety comes first. She indicated to me the issue quickly though and we were able to pause and reset from where we had been, without losing the video we had already shot, which really saved things.
October 27th the Team Casual Discord is formed.
This was a big moment as it really allowed me to bring together the audience formed on twitter and on youtube together in one place. The discord also allowed a space where fan theories could be posted and codes worked on by the community together.
8th Deck profile released on November 20th.
I’d made the mistake of committing on twitter to making this deck. I then realised my original plans for making the deck wouldn’t work, especially while sticking with the lair of darkness archetype being included. So this deck took far longer to make than planned, but I was happy with the result.
January - February 2020
For $25 NZD I got the main Avatar of the Casual Kiwi commissioned.
I updated the intro for the channel using the new Avatar, with a free version of adobe.
Silent M’s mask also appears in all subsequent openings. A 13+ rating was also added. This was a possibly immersion breaking move, but the threat of COPPA meant that many other more conventional Yu-Gi-Oh! Channels were adding these sorts of warnings.
Filming of the first Discord ‘Casual Cast’ podcast takes place, with the first part going up on January 20th, the second on the 23rd and the final one on the 9th of February.
Hit my next milestone of 200 subscribers around this time.
I became a Patreon of Noir Ascii around this time. I Have huge respect for him as a creator of ARG analysis, and he had a very nice discord community. He was friendly and approachable too. His discord was the first place I found where I felt I could openly talk about being an ARG creator without spoiling the suspension of disbelief, and where I could make connections within the ARG community.
The first magic trick on the channel goes up on March 9th.
This was the first collaboration video to tie into the ARG.
Used the vampire on the doorstep principle, confirming with my collaborator first that dark yugitubing would be happening, but keeping the details a secret. This kept the element of surprise so as to get an authentic reaction.
We used fake homemade blood for this, and stored it under my shirt in a resealable bag.
Silent M was behind me and to the left throughout the video, and reached into my shirt to explode the bag. We also had a camera focused at my hands, as well as a recorded discord call up.
While my fellow yugituber didn’t react strongly, his lack of reaction added a certain uncanniness to the whole thing, and the video went over well with members of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Community and the ARG Community.
This was also the first video that, in the comment section, introduced Mystery Duelist. This character would tie into elements adjacent to the main plot and would allow for me to further world build.
Kiwi’s right hand is also corrupted by this trick. From here on out Kiwi is always wearing a glove on his right hand. We added zip ties to the gloves fingers, as if Kiwi is trying to prevent the spread of infection.
March 29th, 9th deck profile comes out.
This would be the last deck profile uploaded on the channel, with Silent M stopping the 10th profile being uploaded. Canonically this was to keep the deck a secret to hinder those trying to help Kiwi prepare for the duel series ahead.
April - May 2020
Corrupted Cast filmed mid April. The first going up on the 14th, then following parts on April 30th and May 29th. The Guests audio was corrupted, so we overlaid gameplay footage, and gave it more of an ARG focus than the first Casual Cast. Gameplay footage was chosen specifically to be analogous to the ARG’s storyline.
A second magic trick video was uploaded on April 27th as well.
At this point the climax of the series, the Yu-Gi-Oh! Gauntlet Series between Silent M and Kiwi, was approaching, and so I wanted to have some positive videos with minor foreshadowing, some final collaborations and tying up some loose ends around the dice code.
I commissioned the main Silent M avatar for $20 NZD
On May 14th I released a video on how to make a Yu-Gi-Oh! Discord. This is currently the most viewed video on the Casual Kiwi YGO channel and is close to reaching 4K views.
This gave extra hints for the dice code, which was solved, and as a result, Mystery Duelist can now interact with the discord with the aid of an artificial intelligence. This was set up for a text based adventure game I had made using Twinery. It would provide extra details of world building, as well as serve as a place to enter the decoded blue sleeves puzzle.
On June 12th I uploaded a collaboration magic trick as a final send off of sorts before we announced the Yu-Gi-Oh! Gauntlet Series (Gauntlet) between Silent and Kiwi.
Hit a third milestone of 300 subscribers around this time. Celebrated by giving members of the discord the before 300 role. This would be the last milestone I could actively celebrate with the discord, as I passed 400 after the social media hiatus had begun.
This month was dedicated to getting ready for the announcement of the Gauntlet series. Once it was announced I would need to leave social media behind soon after, because if I was still alive and active, it could be seen as confirming that Kiwi would win the Gauntlet.
In retrospect the Social media hiatus really should have begun from when I had filmed the first duel post announcement. At the time though I really believed I could complete the Gauntlet by the end of 2020.
In August I scouted out locations to be seen in the Announcement video over 2 days and then filmed in town over 2 nights. The 2nd night was for reshoots. Then we filmed the main bulk of the video similar to my Yu-Gi-Oh! profiles.
Before the Gauntlet announcement I made sure to let the mods of my discord know what was happening, and that I would be going away a week following the announcement to do the Gauntlet. I also left a head mod in charge as an Executor.
September 1st the Yu-Gi-Oh! Gauntlet Series (Gauntlet) is announced.
It sets out the rules of the series, what would be happening during my social media hiatus, and through the subtitles, opportunities for people to create fan videos that would potentially help or hinder Kiwi in his duels with Silent M. Several of these videos were made, and these were shared in the discord and on Silent M’s twitter. A few have also been incorporated into the series. It is still possible to get fan videos acknowledged in the Gauntlet, just it will be the editor, and not the competitors acknowledging them.
September 2nd Nick announces the Night Mind Index! This was a wonderful opportunity and so I emailed in to have the series added.
September 7th Nick mentions my series on twitter! This was honestly the high point so far for me as a creator. To have the concept of my series acknowledged by such an incredible content creator, one whose videos on ARGs had really helped me plan my own, was an honour I can hardly put into words.
It was also a fantastic opportunity to see comments about the series and what was the response outside of my small Team Casual community. This helped me learn some important things before beginning the final part of the ARG.
First, most people were familiar with the Duel Monsters Era of the anime. By leaning into some of that nostalgia, I could help make the series more accessible for people who weren’t familiar with the modern card game.
Secondly, while people liked the idea, they were unsure about whether a Yu-Gi-Oh! ARG would be a game changer (so to speak). So if I wanted to win them over, I needed to think carefully about how a Yu-Gi-Oh! Series provides unique opportunities that most ARG’s don’t. The big thing here would be the way ARG mind games would translate into a dueling situation. The antagonist and protagonist are also in direct conflict almost constantly.
September 8th the Social media hiatus begins. Again in retrospect, I should have waited until I had duels done before going on hiatus, as this was way too early.
On September 13th the Discord partnered with the very well run Vehemence ARG Discord. It was good to have collaboration and cross promotion between Team Casual and another ARG Discord, especially at a time when I couldn’t be visibly present in my discord.
October- November 2020
There was a lot to still organise for the Gauntlet and so this period was dedicated to that, while working on content to tide over my followers so they knew I hadn’t abandoned them.
I completed the Twinery text adventure, which became available on Halloween. Many in the discord engaged with it, though there are still a few secrets to be found.
I also became a patron of Nick’s for a time, which provided another great ARG discord to be a part of, and it felt good to support the Night Mind Index. Due to financial constraints I did later have to step back from Patreon unfortunately.
The Casual Kiwi’s subscriptions are public, and creators are notified when I follow them. As I couldn’t comment as Kiwi on youtube with the hiatus, I did a lot of subscribing to Yu-Gi-Oh! And ARG content. I found many Yugitubers followed back, but not many ARG creators did, or possibly their subscriptions weren’t public.
The most important thing however was getting the Gauntlet ready to go as soon as possible.
For the Gauntlet I wanted to have an overlay that would allow it to be as high quality as the best duel videos on youtube. My main inspirations were from The Calieffect and Karatula3.
I commissioned unique Avatars for almost every deck in the Gauntlet from a variety of amazing artists online. These ranged in price from $48 NZD to $110 NZD. I wanted to use different artists, so that other artists watching the Casual Kiwi could imagine how they might depict things in their own style too.
I sought out help in creating thumbnails, lifepoint calculators, and overlays, but ultimately decided to create these myself in paint, and got my girlfriend's help in photoshop for some assets as well. We went with a nostalgic Exodia theme.
Every episode has a ‘last time on Yu-Gi-Oh!’ opening, and we animated these using Powerpoint.
I used an online text generator for both lifepoints and to show hand information.
I sourced various no copyright tracks to use in the Gauntlet as well.
I bought the Gauntlet Knife for $76 NZD. (From a very unusual watch store)
I spent about $100 NZD on additional cards and card sleeves for the Gauntlet.
$20 NZD on additional dice.
Around $50 on a large fold out table and fold out chairs.
We bought about $40 worth of cheap belts. In the anime, Yugi wears various chokers and belts. For Kiwi, he wears a belt around his right wrist, and on his right elbow, to signify that he has failed to contain the corruption in his gloved hand, and it is spreading up his arm. No more zip ties on the glove itself.
I was originally planning to use modern playmats for the Gauntlet (and they will be used in the Pre Gauntlet coming up in December), but seeing the reaction to Nick’s tweet, I decided instead to use some original old school playmats I still owned. They were not as durable, but much more memorable.
December 2020 - January 2021
To test out the format, I got back my old friend Meta Sheep 420 from the shadow realm for a pre gauntlet match. This match was shot in a single afternoon.
I also did some location filming in the parking lot of a stadium. This was in many ways the pilot for what was to come. There were some issues with the recording, but no opportunity to reshoot the duels, so I worked with what we had. I divided the videos into rounds to ease the editing pressure.
Gauntlet Prelude Round 1 came out on December 27th
Gauntlet Prelude Round 2 came out on December 31st
Gauntlet Prelude Round 3 came out on January 5th
This is when I should have gone on hiatus, as it was locked in canonically that the Gauntlet had happened on the night of the 11th of December 2020. The time between going on hiatus and the first duel was definitely the hardest period. It was at times a struggle to keep people engaged, some of whom thought I’d be back after only a week on hiatus.
Overall the reaction was really positive. I got some good feedback that the vocals in the music made it difficult to focus on the duels, so in the main Gauntlet I used instrumental versions.
I also felt that Silent’s hand information would need to be hidden unlike Meta Sheeps, and that we should film the Gauntlet by torch light, to distinguish a shadow game from a more conventional duel.
We therefore spent around $80NZD to buy batteries and torches for the Gauntlet. Some of these were headlamps so we can see our cards.
The eliminations would also be literal, and we would be destroying decks that lost matches. We would have to figure out the best way of doing this. Research showed that duelists often had a strong reaction to seeing cards get ripped, but this would result in dislikes if we did it in a way that implied we didn’t care about our cards.
The one compromise I made on my Hiatus was here, as I do upload the YouTube videos to twitter, and occasionally pictures from the Gauntlet. The implication is that it could be Kiwi, or someone else uploading these links to Twitter.
Another thing I did was tweak the YouTube channel itself. I unlisted all the content that was overly long or had no relation to the Gauntlet and put this in playlists for people to view. That way newcomers to the series would not feel a need to watch each and every video on the channel to catch up. I also included a link to the announcement of the Gauntlet in almost every video's end card. This would act as the primary entry point for the series.
Around this time my girlfriend and I moved to a new flat. The moving process slowed us down on the Gauntlet front, but the new place had a perfect bathroom area for filming the Gauntlet.
The original plan from here was to produce the Gauntlet over three weekends, with 3 matches filmed per weekend. The problem was that filming the Gauntlet was much more time consuming than expected, and the best we could manage was a round a week. Meaning the aim became to get out a Gauntlet match per month. Fortunately this has so far proved an achievable goal so far.
The Gauntlet is unique in that it is much more akin to a professional wrestling match than a competitive contest. Closer to the way anime fights play out. My girlfriend is very much my partner in crime.
March is when filming of the first Gauntlet rounds began. It is also the first and only time we ended up having an injury.
In the lead up to filming the first round I wanted to get a sound effect of Silent smashing my phone with her boot. I put a glass in a sock next to my phone (recording audio) and then stepped on it with a thick boot. However the glass didn’t break.
I looked around for something to use to smash the glass and found a heavy soap dispenser. I brought the soap dispenser down on the glass, only to realise it was heavy because it was a ceramic soap dispenser. I got the sound effect, but It shattered in my hand and cut the fatty part of the palm under my thumb.
Thankfully a medical kit wasn’t far from me and my girlfriend was able to help get it cleaned up pretty quick. While I was bleeding though I was next to the fold up table for the Gauntlet, so out of instinct I smeared my hand across the table.
So in the Gauntlet the stain on the table that every match takes place on does in fact use real blood. Was it worth injuring my hand over? Absolutely not. If I could go back I would much rather have smashed the glass with something that didn’t make me bleed everywhere haha. Especially as there was a risk of getting pieces of ceramic stuck under my skin. Fortunately this is the only accident we’ve had.
The first round of the Gauntlet went up on March 22nd.
A Gauntlet round usually takes a day to film, and two to three days to edit. I use Wonder Filmora for the bulk of it.
For every Gauntlet Match, we’ve invited a content creator to do a ‘last time on Yu-Gi-Oh!’ and declare the winner of each round. I always ask people for voice lines with my creator hat on, not in character, and am open about the style of the series and link to the playlist.
March 29th the Second Round of the First Match was uploaded.
April 6th the final round of the first match was uploaded.
This featured the first elimination of a deck. I practiced many times with the Gauntlet knife before actually stabbing the deck that was being eliminated. We make the decks bleed using soy sauce in small squeeze bottles. When I get sushi I just get a few extra packets for the Gauntlet. Though, the best squeeze bottles I could find are only available at one sushi place that I knew of.
We also film the deck with both a laptop camera and the Go Pro, so we can cut between angles. It is also in case a camera doesn’t record the elimination properly, we have another recording of it happening.
All Gauntlet uploads are premieres. While this seems to get less reach, it allows us to advertise releases in advance, and it allows for live comments. These are the most exciting comments to see as a creator.
April 19th the first round of the second match is uploaded
On May 1st the second and final round of the second match was uploaded.
This was the first elimination Silent M had to do. We practiced, but ultimately decided I might find cutting the deck easier. So when you see Silent M eliminate a deck, it is actually Kiwi wearing Silent’s hood and robes. To make it less clear whose who, Silent’s style of elimination is much more cold and cruel than Kiwi’s, whose stab is more emotional than effective.
When a deck of Kiwi’s is eliminated the overlay will change and become progressively darker.
The framing of each episode is designed to put you in the position of rooting for Kiwi. He is positioned on the right of the frame, and usually Yu-Gi-Oh! Protagonists are also on the right of the frame, with antagonists on the left.
We only see Kiwi’s hand info, and Kiwi speaks aloud, so we get a window into his thoughts. We get none of this from Silent, having to rely instead on body language and the cards she uses.
The third match’s first round was uploaded on May 11th.
This match provides the first indicator of the third party being in the background, meddling with Silent M and Kiwi’s duels. The water bottle introduced here, had to be filmed in such a way as to keep continuity between rounds, and in fact several different water bottles have been used over the course of filming. We also have to be careful around using nail polish, keeping nails short, and also hair length. I had very long hair when the Gauntlet began, so this has been a particular challenge.
June 27th the final round of match 3 is uploaded.
This match was between two control decks which didn't quickly eliminate the opposition. This makes it harder to easily determine a winner, and also leads to longer duels which are easier to make mistakes in. This requires reshoots. Furthermore, long matches mean a lot more editing, even when you get a good round to work with. This match and it’s rounds was by far the toughest to shoot so far.
We also had some trouble with lighting, which while it played into the theming (struggling against the shadows) it was getting difficult to see the duels. We would gradually correct this over the coming matches.
June 28th a profile is uploaded featuring the deck eliminated. Decks updated for the Gauntlet had technically not been covered before, and as deck profiles tend to do well, it made sense to include these update profiles, and use them to get eyes on the Gauntlet.
July 10th, Night Mind Index Entry updated to make Gauntlet announcement the project link.
July 20th, Match 4, round 1 is uploaded.
Funnily enough this round is the first Gauntlet episode to receive dislikes. The audience definitely notices if we misplay, and there was a very noticeable one in this episode. Whenever we pick up on a misplay, we always endeavour to make sure we don’t make the same mistake twice in future episodes.
August 26th is the latest Gauntlet episode, March 4,round 2 is uploaded.
The elimination in this one, once again featured me posing as Silent M. This time having two cameras really paid off. Firstly I was so focused on the elimination, I forgot to put up the hood obscuring my head from sight. Secondly, the second camera actually misses the point of impact, meaning most of the cutting of cards is off screen. Thankfully having two cameras, and with some careful editing cuts, we were able to salvage the footage, as it could have been disastrous if we had cut up a deck and then found we needed to do another take!
We also found a way to permanently improve the lighting of the Gauntlet, while keeping the torch lit aesthetic, so future episodes will be much better lit.
August 27th the updated deck profile of the eliminated deck is released.
The anniversary of the channel once again approaches! The Channel currently sits around 440 subscribers, 890 followers on twitter, and about 90 in the Team Casual Discord. This is where we are so far, about half way through the final battle between Silent M and the Casual Kiwi in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Gauntlet Series.
I really hope this has provided some insight into what has gone into this ARG behind the scenes over the past three years. There are a few more details I want to mention, but I will save them for Nick’s eyes only. Hope this was interesting for any aspiring Dark Yugitubers or ARG creators generally who see this. If you search #DarkYugitubing you will find one or two who have been inspired to give this type of content a go, hopefully this will become a thriving space for weird and wonderful content creation in the years to come.
Thank you so much Nick for the opportunity to share some of the process of making this with you. Creators like yourself give me the hope that there is a bright future for the unfiction field, and that while making projects like these can be tough, that there are those out there that appreciate all that effort.
The Casual Kiwi