A shot of the Nemesis System screen from Shadow of War.

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Warner Brothers Patented Shadow of War's Nemesis System

January 29, 2021

By: Brian Renadette

 
 

In the video game industry, whenever a game becomes a big hit, it's almost certain other games will be made that emulate what works. With how popular and innovative the Nemesis System in Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War was, it may be surprising that other games have done very little to use the system for their own games. As it turns out, Warner Brothers has a patent on that system. 

In Shadow of War and its 2014 prequel, the Nemesis System, at its base, is a system that allows the game to create procedurally-generated villains. However, it's also capable of becoming a form of story generator based on your character's relationship with these enemies. Story generation is usually seen in games like RimWorldCrusader Kings 3, and Dwarf Fortress, but seeing it in an action-adventure game is something else. Game Maker's Toolkit made a fantastic video on the system that you can see below:

 

Warner Brothers, the developers behind both of the Middle-Earth games, patented this system that Monolith Productions made. More specifically, the patent, which was patented on Patents.Justia.com in March 2016, is on "methods for managing non-player characters and power centers in a computer game... based on character hierarchies and individualized correspondences between each character's traits or rank and events that involve other non-player characters or objects." It may sound odd to patent a gameplay system, but it's been done before with things like the arrow in Crazy Taxi that points to your drop-off point or Namco's patent on loading screen minigames from 1995 to 2015.

Because of the patent, other companies and studios are likely to shy away from using similar systems over fears of legal action. We've seen some smaller versions of this system such as with the Mercenaries system in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, but nothing to the story-long extent in Shadow of War. There are rumors that other Warner Brothers games will use the Nemesis System in the future, but we'll have to see it in action to be sure.

 
 

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is available for PC via Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.