In a world where video games are everything, cybernetically enhanced competitors known as ‘Meta Runners’ reign supreme. To the public, they are sports stars, celebrities, and idols rolled into one. But beneath the neon lights and the fan-filled arenas lies a dark underbelly where people will do anything to be number one.

We spoke to Jeffrey Yang, writer and producer of Meta Runner (AUS) about the video game-inspired world and what it was like to build that landscape from the ground up

What inspired your series?

The series was inspired by our love of video games. There have been a handful of shows with video games at their centre, but it’s always been clear that the creators had only a cursory knowledge of the topic, and they would go in wild, impossible direction with it. We wanted our series to contain actual game mechanics and concepts that real video game fans would know and appreciate.

Overall how long have you been working on your series?

Production began in early 2018 and the series finally premiered in July 2019, so it was more than a year. We are still working on it right now and plan to release Season 2 in 2020. 

Meta Runner Trailer

Has the end product strayed far from your initial vision?

Our series has definitely evolved and grown over the course of production, mostly due to the building of skills from our team. One thing we love about our young artists is that they’re incredibly energetic and always striving to improve. This has come in the form of episode length, production quality, and even writing. Our series is nothing like what we originally dreamed, in the best possible way.

What was the design process for creating the world of Meta Runner?

For the world, we grabbed moodboards of all the sci-fi and cyberpunk content we loved and tried to pay homage to it whenever possible. The best thing about Meta Runner is that it actually has several worlds since the characters warp into different games all the time. This let us take inspiration from and make throwbacks to all our favourite games. The FPS game Battle Blaze for example was designed to resemble the most famous level in the game Counterstrike (de_dust). Honestly, the entire team are just a bunch of fans that have decided to make the kinds of worlds they played in and enjoyed when they were younger.

What was the character design process for your central characters?

The original design of Tari was actually pitched by the little sister of the series creators and then grew into what she is today. For the rest, we tended to pull from our pool of favourite series and take details where appropriate. For example, the game character Theo is heavily based off of Mario.

What was your greatest challenge creating the series?

Our team is young and small, so experience was definitely the biggest hurdle. This was easily the largest project any of us had worked on, and admittedly, it was a lot tougher than we thought. But, the team really pulled through, gave it their all, kept learning and we think the work speaks for itself. 

What was your release strategy? 

We already had a solid base of fans from our main series: SMG4, so it was mostly released appealing to them. We had a solid social marketing push behind it as well as merch to support the show, and all of it did quite decently. We’re excited to show our fans what we have planned for Season 2’s release.

What is the future for your series?

We currently have Season 2 scheduled for late 2020, and then beyond that we have a few other things in mind that we want to keep under wraps for now.