The Nemesis System from the Middle Earth games has been missing for a while. Warner Bros patented it, preventing other devs from making one.
The patent protects the entire process, preventing other studios from creating something similar.
Nemesis created a brand new way of storytelling
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor has one of the unique storytelling mechanics ever. As players wade through the hordes of enemies, they will eventually find special enemies.
These will do specific actions or remember what you do to them.
Some will live another day again, and remember how you killed them. Others will break your sword and get a better rank among their horde.
Also, another might kill you and use it to humiliate you when they meet you again.
In Shadow of War, the system even works better, helping players create procedurally-generated narratives.
Furthermore, the Nemesis helps players find allies, receive betrayals, and install their cohorts in high places.
After these two games, the system is weirdly missing, and studios cannot replicate how it works. However, the sleuthing of a games journalist found out why.
The Nemesis is patented for a reason
In his video, Mark Brown of Gamemaker’s Toolkit (GMTK) notes how Monolith, the devs for the game, patented the entire Nemesis System. There’s even a patent copy for it in Justia.
Titled “Nemesis Characters, Nemesis Forts, Social Vendettas And Followers In Computer Games,” the entire patent lists down precisely what the system does.
“Well, for one thing, the developers at Monolith actually, and annoyingly, have a patent for the system – meaning that other studios may be scared to use a similar system and face legal action,” said Brown in his analysis.
The idea of protecting entire systems and unique gameplay mechanics is nothing new in video games.
Within the same video, Brown specified The Simpsons: Road Rage, which was embroiled in a legal battle with Sega’s Crazy Taxi.
Even in video game’s early years, companies tried their best to steer away from potential grey area cases.
Furthermore, it is a waste of time and resources to be embroiled in a legal battle, especially these days.
Even then, the system patent means Warner should have a chance to use it in their future games.
In July, rumors that a new Batman game will use the Nemesis System are in the works. Whether it happens or not, any game that uses it will be fantastic.
Featured image courtesy of GMTK/Youtube Screenshot