Talking Stone Film

Film Reviews & Headlines

It’s finally happening. Today, I get to enter a true virtual world for the very first time! Headset on! Link start! Greetings from virtual realit-t-t-t-t-t-t *cuts off* Well, that was unexpected. *Game Theory Intro* Hello, Internet! Welcome to Game Theory! Haha, sorry, ah uh… Film Theory! You’ll have to forgive me I got my wires crossed today because today’s theory is about a video game. Just not a real video game. Today we’re gonna be full diving into the world of “Sword Art Online”. One of the most popular and most controversial anime ever made. If you’re not familiar with SAO already the premise is pretty simple: In the year 2022, technology has advanced to the point that full sensory virtual reality is possible. Unlike the Oculus Rift or HTC VIVE, Sword Art Online’s NerveGear headset essentially projects its virtual world into user’s dreams. Allowing for full immersion without the need for a big play space. MatPat: “Oh, ah, ffff Thanks, everyone *Steph lolz in the background* Thank you for warning me about that one.” Steph: “Who knew you were gonna jump?” MatPat: “Thanks, everyone outside of here for taking care of the guy, who’s in virtual reality!” 10,000 players immediately sign up and strap into the NerveGear to become a part of the world’s first virtual MMORPG Sword Art Online. Unfortunately, there’s a teeny-tiny downside to this incredible technology. You see, it uses microwaves to interact directly with the human mind, and yeah I do mean microwaves. Exactly like the ones that you used last night to reheat that leftover salisbury steak. The companies selling these things say they aren’t powerful enough to actually do any damage, but as we all know, game developers have a habit of telling little white lies about their games to sell more copies In this case the little white lie is that NerveGear’s creator, Kayaba Akihiko has programmed the microwaves to fry the brain of any player who dies in the game. Kayaba: “The NerveGear will simultaneously destroy your brain…” as well as any player whose family tries to remove their helmet in the real world. So yeah, definitely understand why they wanted to leave that gameplay feature off the box art. Anyway, throwing some tentacles and incest and you’ve got yourself one of the most famous and infamous animes of all time. Now, we’ve just entered 2018, meaning that the launch of SAO in 2022 is only four years away. In other words, if I have any hopes of becoming an in-game sword master with a fidget spinner on my outfit, as if I need to give people more reason to hate this show, development needs to start now! And companies need to know how much would all of this cost to make. Creating fully immersive VRWorlds is already happening so by looking at current technology and trends in game development we can reach a fairly close approximation of what it would take to throw a game like SAO together And let me tell ya’, building the world’s first ever virtual reality massively multiplayer online game ain’t gonna be cheap. So with that I’ve got one thing to say to you: Diavel: Let’s win! We can actually knock one of the hardest numbers out of the way immediately the research and development cost of the NerveGear. In volume 10 chapter 2 of the light novels the anime is based on it’s shown that Kayaba Akihiko, the genius creator of Sao and the nervegear, was paid a hundred million yen in 2013, which translates to a little over 1 million U.S. dollars at the time. Canonically, the development of both the game and the headset took 10 years so with some simple math, we can see that the base cost of the game is at least 10 million dollars. For this one guy alone! And sure, that might seem like an egregious amount of money to pay one guy But remember, Akihiko’s job, aside from overseeing development, was to create the cutting edge nerve gear hardware to run the game and the complex AI programs that drive it. Some of which, like lovable sacrificial cinnamon-roll Yui, are close to being fully sentient. So, while his salary is indeed expensive as all get-out he definitely earns it based off of his innovative technology. Now obviously you can’t make a game this complex with just one person, it takes a whole team of developers Unfortunately, neither the books nor the anime provide any hard numbers on the size of SAO development staff So even knowing the average salary of a game developer we can’t really determine anything conclusive based on that. Instead, we’re gonna need to work backwards by looking at the world of SAO itself and figuring out what it would cost to build something of its scale based on the production costs of other games. Now as an MMORPG Sorry, this is Film Theory, I can take for granted that you know what that means. MMORPG is short for massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Basically that amounts to a living breathing online world with tens of thousands of players each taking on a different character. And as an online game, it’s gonna have a lot of unavoidable upfront costs before any content can even be made for it Writing network code, running servers, programming the games engine and AI behaviors all cost money. Now most game studios are pretty tight-lipped about their budget breakdowns, but fortunately for us those costs don’t tend to fluctuate very much between titles and are thus fairly easy to predict by comparing the reported budgets of other MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Destiny and Star Wars The Old Republic to single-player sandbox games of similar scale that were released at the same time we can ballpark those MMO specific costs to somewhere between 10 and 30 million dollars. Now it may seem like a 20 million dollar margin of error is huge but trust me when I say it’s just a drop in the bucket next to the game’s biggest boss – art assets. The 3D models and textures for every object and character all need to be designed, animated and given sound effects. Plus, they need to be placed in the world by level designers and these are the costs that increase the most dramatically the larger and more varied the game worlds are. Which means that before we can calculate out how much that all cost we need to know exactly how big the world of SAO is. Luckily, we’re given some hard numbers to work with: Kayaba: “Right now you’re gathered on floor 1, the lowest level of Aincrad. If you can get through the dungeon and defeat the boss You may advance to the next floor. Defeat the boss on floor 100 and you will clear the game.” The prologue of the first book reads: “An impossibly huge castle of rock and i-” Hey! Hey! Hey! What are you looking at? The important information is over here! We’re doing the math now and nothing, not even that loli on the other page is sexier than math, okay? Eyes on the prize guys. Math… “An impossibly huge castle of rock and iron, floating in an endless expanse of sky. That is the entirety of this world. A tireless month-long survey by a team of fanatical experts found that the base floor of this fortress was about ten kilometers in diameter… …and considering the 100 floors stacked one on top of the other the sheer vastness of the structure beggared the imagination. It was impossible to estimate the total amount of data it all represented.” Impossible you say? Sounds like a challenge! So as it just said the bottom floor of Aincrad is ten kilometers across and since each floor of the castle is a perfect circle that means its area is Pi*r squared or 78.54 square kilometers which is a few shy of the size of Grand Theft Auto V’s map. But that’s only one floor Aincrad is a hundred floors tall, so does that mean you can cram 100 GTA Vs into SAO? Not quite. Early on in the anime we’re shown a side-on view of the castle and as you can see the floors gradually taper off to a point at the top. For the first 40 or so floors that diameter stays pretty consistent. Tapering off to 8.5 km at this part that’s jutting out. It’s not a smooth curve, so it’s a little hard to measure precisely but for simplicity’s sake let’s just say that these first 40 floors averaged out to be about 9 km. across or 63 sq. km. each about the same size as the world of the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild meaning that the total area of these floors combined is a whopping 2520 sq km which is more than twice the size of Los Angeles After this first chunk the castle fins out substantially so the next 28th floor is only average about 6.5 km in diameter meaning that each floor is only 33 sq km in area. A little smaller than the size of Skyrim. Adding all those together, this block’s total size is 924 sq km. The 27 floors after that get even smaller. Tapering off to just 3 km across the top with an average diameter of just over 4 km an area of just under 13 sq km or one and a half times the size of Fallout 4’s world And a total area of 344 square kilometers Finally, the last five floors of the tower are much more elevated to define so we can get an exact measurement for all of those areas which adds up to 9.2 square kilometers in total. Which means that all together the total land mass present in the game of SAO is an absolutely ridiculous 3797 square kilometers. That is bigger than some countries 28 countries to be exact. It would be the 11th largest city in the world but surprisingly that wouldn’t make it the largest video game world ever created It would actually make it the fourth largest video game world ever created, right behind Fuel, Daggerfall and No Man’s Sky. All three of which are procedurally generated, which for all you non Game Theory viewers means that instead of building the game worlds by hand the developers wrote code to create them automatically based on preset conditions Which is a great time-saving tool, but can result in game worlds that feel very repetitive or otherwise don’t make whole lot of sense. And this is what’s so impressive about SAO the game it isn’t procedurally generated. The SAO Cardinal system AI does indeed generate some content But it’s only responsible for creating quests and adjusting the game’s balance It doesn’t create environment. Each of those hundred floors are entirely man-made. Everything in the dungeons and the town’s is placed by hand and according to the SAO wiki every one of the hundred floors is unique Which means that the developers couldn’t even reuse most of the assets They created between floors. Each new level of Aincrad has unique NPC models, unique Geography that ranges from snowy mountains to barren canyons to fields of flowers not to mention forests of the coniferous deciduous and even spooky haunted varieties even Architecture isn’t the same across these hundred levels every town we see in the anime seems to be based on an entirely different culture Meaning that not even buildings could be reused between the floors in other words unlike many other games which save time and money by copy pasting assets each floor of Sao essentially requires a full games worth of its own 3d Assets so the cost of building Sao Directly scales with the size of its world and knowing all of this what we need to do to figure out its cost is find A similar game to compare it to from the light novels we see that the game’s engine is heavy on simulation using server-side calculations to dynamically generate realistic physics when players interact with things like cloth and water So we’re looking for a game with a large open world high fidelity graphics and realistic Animations as well as physics models for things like water and weather effects as well as cloth and hair on characters and for the closest Comparison possible we want a fantasy game with a lot of wilderness and a few densely populated towns where you can enter Every single building lastly we want a game That’s fairly recent since most of se owes 10-year development cycle would be working with current technology considering all those different factors I think the best possible candidate here is Witcher 3 the wild hunt not only does it fit all of our criteria It’s also conveniently a rare example of a game where the developers have made their budget publicly available So we know that the game’s world is 136 square kilometers and that it costs 46 million dollars to make obviously a big chunk of that budget went towards things other than environmental assets and character models So let’s make a conservative estimate and assume that one-third of the witcher’s budget pool 15 million dollars was dedicated to rendering its world and its characters. The world of Sao is 28 times the size of Witcher 3 and we’ll add in one more Witcher to account for the massive hundred metre tall dungeons that connect every single floor of Sao. So in total, let’s say that’s 29 witcher’s times 15 million dollars, which gives us a stupefying amount of 435 million dollars on art alone plus the 20 to 40 million dollars to develop the game that we talked about earlier that brings us to an astounding 475 million dollars easily making Sao the most expensive game ever made at over double the reported two hundred million dollar budget of Star Wars The Old Republic. And remember this is a very conservative estimate. The Witcher was developed in Warsaw, Poland Which has a much lower cost of living than say urban Tokyo where sword art was developed and thus lower average Wages so in all likelihood the games world lost several times that much to create if we base our calculations off of Grand Theft Auto 5 whose development centers are in much more urban locations the budget of SAO skyrockets to one billion, seven hundred million dollars to create. $1.7 billion dollars! That’s enough to cover the development and the marketing costs for the next 10 most expensive games ever made combined! And we are STILL not done! Because SAO isn’t just a VR MMO It also gives its players sensory experiences for everything that they do in the game. That means the development team also needs to assign appropriate smells tastes and touch sensations related to everything in the game world In theory the nervegear Hardware could be used to record this data by reading signals from the brain as a person experiences those sensations But you still need people to actually record those brain reactions in the first place spending hours Just touching and smelling fur, wet grass, metal and literally anything else that might be in the game eating all kinds of food even having sex, which as we learned in the infamously graphic bonus chapter 16.5, is yet another one of SAO’s gameplay features. I guess since he was gonna kill them all anyways. he wasn’t worried about the ESRB rating. I’d estimate we need a team of at least 10 people to record and implement all these sensations. So if we base the salaries of these sense recorders off the industry standard rates for Foley artists, who are the sound engineers who record and edit sound effects for film and video games (kinda close at the same thing), that adds between another five and ten million dollars to our budget which brings the price of creating a game like SAO to a grand total of $485 million if we’re using our Witcher 3 estimates. Which means that SAO would need to sell 7,250,000 copies at $60 a pop just to break even on the development costs, and using our higher GTA 5 based estimate, it would need to move 28 million five hundred thousand units which is just a little bit more than the ten thousand copies of the games sold at launch. And we are still not even counting marketing or distribution costs. The only way they could possibly make their money back at this point would be to insert micro transactions. So maybe Kayaba Akihiko was actually doing everyone a favor. Sure he might have killed thousands of people playing the game, but at least he didn’t try to sell him loot boxes. But hey! That’s just a theory. A Film Theory. And… Hey, if you want to see my friend Geoff from the channel mother’s basement fix what is widely considered to be the worst part of sword art online the whole fairy story line well Then click the box to the left It’s a video that will have you Wishing there was a way to go back and redo that story arc because he’s changing into a narrative with real stakes That sounds incredible for these characters, or if you want more anime content well
Then click the box to the right which were taken to my film theory taking apart the mistakes that Edward and Alphonse made and their full metal alchemist calculations

100 thoughts on “Film Theory: Is SAO the MOST EXPENSIVE GAME EVER? (Sword Art Online)

  1. If the game is like a dream you could maybe get away just with suggestions about how most things sense like and have everyones subcon fill in the rest.
    Thats how I would justify it.

  2. Actually, for microwaves to fry a human brain, they would be vibrating faster than microwaves… And thus no longer microwaves

  3. Tecnicaly Sword Art Online is not the FIRST vr-mmo in SAO universe, it is just like… the most hyped one, it is the Zelda Breath of The Wild from their universe.

  4. I don't think we need a microwave for this nervegear.. however as far as I know about technology today, what we need is figure how to know what frequency and wavelength in order to get "access" to our minds "dreamworld". And not to mention to understand the inner working mechanism between the brain and the "dreamworld" concept, not only that we need to figure how to utilize and create a connection to the brain so it can access to "dreamworld" and as well find a way to create an external world without affecting the brains original "dreamworld".

    So, in order to get that phase at all, you need research SUPER geniuses in neuroscience, cybernetic, advanced quantum physics, advanced biology (brain), probably any profession that has to do with medical/cybernetic knowledge regarding the brain and neural science.

    To be honest, I highly doubt we have that kind of technology unless the military does have a certain level of technology that resembles something like the SAO nerve gear or like cocoon-like in some manga or anime. So I take an educated guess and say we get that around 2030-60 depending on the evolution rate within this technical area.

    Suffice to say, If we get this level of technology, it would create an abnormal leap and bounds in our civilization technology level. Just imagine that kind of technology can offer to mankind in so many areas, especially in medical and space-related areas.

  5. hmm I may be stupid but I'm pretty sure that's one million seven hundred thousand not one billion seven hundred thousand 13:10

  6. If you haven't watched Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, It reveals The Sword Art Online Game Was Made by a Group of Developers

  7. Your whole concept of cost is neglecting machine learning and how far that will be in 2022, by the end of this year we will have cars that drive 2oo times safer than a human driver.

  8. One thing I can say is that cost wise, things do make much more sense when you consider the government is also interested in the technology and probably gave funding for the development of the nerve gear. Also, considering modern technology development and the technology they have then (not we will have in 2022, but consider the nerve gear, they are ahead), the art would probably be a lot cheaper as they scan real life objects and places to texture and model them in game (I think this is called projection mapping)

  9. We're not going to lie to each other, I clearly think that on the sizes of the bearings we wouldn't need as much, what we have to imagine is more of a skyrim divided into 100. Then add forests, cellars, cities, quests, mountains, water points. And we should get something right.

    But in order to keep people dreaming about video games, we already have VRChat very similar to Sword Art Online in the sense that we have a wide choice of what we want. The only difference is the players who all have to do the work, but it allows us to have worlds like Sword Art Online but apprentice version (maybe in 20-30 years we will have a SAO)
    I even consider VRChat as a grandfather who will bring us the Sword Art Online we want.

  10. Man i really hope theirs a billionire out there that love games so much that they would invest in it 😒😌🙏

  11. The program used to make the world is able to make its own characters and missions so level design and art could be cheaper

  12. All this told me is that anyone with around 10 billion ore more in wealth is easely capable of creating SAO atleast 3 times over if not more… (atleast assuming the vr tech could be made)

    Somebody do that


    But dont kill everyone playin it

  13. easy possible if people have to pay per month, this way they cant have half the consumers aslong as they play the game for a long time. if they pay 20 a month they have 60 in 3 month.
    easy peasy

  14. There is some error in matpat's words sao's world is the 5th after no man's sky, fuel dagger fall and the biggest which is minecraft(its infinite for the noobs that are wondering)

  15. Honestly, the only way I can see SAO turning into a real VRMMO game would be if ALL of the game companies work together to piece it all into place.

    Edit: And they'd all be a lot richer if they decided to go with that idea.

  16. Server cost would be millions cuz there will be lots of players and even that cost servers never would be stable with huge amount players, server-side physic calculations etc. Just impossible. Plus everyone player would need ridiculous stable connection speed.

  17. Tbh if they’d Make MMORPG Games they should first do either GGO or ALO I think we all can agree those are the coolest games we've seen so far in the anime

  18. Don't forget the fact that they scan the players face and apparently can figure out the size of the players body. That can get very random as people in the real world don't look so generic like they do in video game npc's. Things like scars, freckles, wrinkles, Different hairstyles, hair colors, eye shape and color, it would be a real pain to make sure everyone look exactly like they do in real life

  19. Just wanna day but you would also have to applie Moore’s law to all of the cost, so it would be around a quarter of all of these prices in 2022.

  20. Just wanna say that you would also have to apply Moore’s law to all of the cost, so it would be around a quarter of all of these prices in 2022.

  21. So essentially with all the calculations matpat did in this video we will never ever get a VR game like SAO because it's too expensive to make

  22. The thing that constantly bugged me about SAO is that over the whole time they were stuck in the game literally no one could figure out how to turn it off safely. There had to be massive groups of people (paid and volunteer) trying to solve the issue. No one outside the game could figure out how to take control of the servers?

  23. So basically, the creator of SAO wanted to kill all those people because when it came right down to it, he would never be able to recover his costs or even make a profit from his game. Makes sense. Kill everyone to cover up a suicide or have someone in the game outright kill you, which Kirito did.

  24. Am I the only one who pissed themselves laughing when the screen kept moving to the girl in her underwear, only to be blocked by MatPat?

    P.s. I'm very drunk while watching this

  25. Or sell the game for 3 grand a pop and make some profit, or depending on the microwave helmet's price, 4k. THE WORLDS FIRST FULLY IMMERSIVE MMO, surely there are 10,000 rich idiots who'd pay through the nose for that kinda 'i was there first' bragging rights. Fyre festival had about that many, right?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *