The Nemesis System used in the games Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War is one of the coolest open-world gameplay hooks we’ve ever seen, letting you form rivalries against non-player characters based on your previous actions. If you were hoping other games would implement it, however, that will be a lot harder to do now, as Warner Bros. has patented it.
As spotted by IGN, this week the US Patent and Trademark Office announced that a patent for the Nemesis System would be valid as of February 23. However, the page listing the issuing date is not available online at the moment.
This followed years of attempting to patent the system that went back to shortly after the release of Shadow of Mordor. A filing from 2016 described a system “for managing non-player characters and power centers in a computer game [that] are based on character hierarchies and individualized correspondences between each character’s traits or rank and events that involve other non-player characters or objects.”
In other words, it’s for the way the world reacts to your own actions. The “hierarchies” mentioned correspond to the pyramid of targets, including captains, you could kill or enslave in Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War. This created a story that would effectively be different for each player, as the characters you chose to kill or spare could have an impact on your next mission–either helping or hindering you.
It’s unclear if Warner Bros. will use this in a future game. The story of the Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War wrapped up pretty cleanly in the second game. However, it’s always possible it could be used for a completely different project.
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