How the Nemesis System Creates Stories -

How the Nemesis System Creates Stories

Game Maker’s Toolkit
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The Nemesis System in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a unique villain generator. But in the sequel, Shadow of War, it’s a full on story generator. Here’s how it makes narratives that are interesting, meaningful, and memorable.

=== Before you watch ===

Content warning: Blood, Gore, Violence

=== Sources ===

[1] 2015 D.I.C.E. Summit – Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor’s Michael de Plater | YouTube

[2] Helping Players Hate (or Love) Their Nemesis | YouTube

[3] Upgrading the Nemesis system for Middle-earth: Shadow of War | Gamasutra

[4] Nemesis Characters, Nemesis Forts, Social Vendettas And Followers In Computer Games | Justia Patents

[5] SEGA Sues Fox, EA over Simpsons Road Rage | IGN

[6] New Batman Game From WB Montreal To Feature Nemesis System With Multiple Factions – Rumor | WCCF Tech

[7] Rumor: Harry Potter RPG Gets ‘Dark,’ Uses a ‘Nemesis’ Rival System | The Escapist

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=== Games Shown ===

Middle-earth: Shadow of War (2017)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)
RimWorld (2013)
Crusader Kings III (2020)
Spec Ops: The Line (2012)
Hades (2020)
Burnout Revenge (2005)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)
The Walking Dead: Season One (2012)
Mass Effect 3 (2012)
The Simpsons: Road Rage (2001)
Crazy Taxi (1999)
Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (2018)
Watch Dogs: Legion (2020)

=== Credits ===

Music from Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War OSTs, property of Warner Bros.

The Simpsons: Road Rage footage from

Some images from

== Translation ==

Contribute translated subtitles –


  1. Imagine how small your world is if you've never played Dwarf Fortress

  2. 30 years of shoveling more and more resolution in our face, and this is the first AI related advancement sense fucking HALF LIFE 1, and it's an utter game MAKER.

    THIS, studios. I don't care about seeing my god damned reflection in water if it sucks up 98% of my GPU. Get me a game that runs at MINIMUM 60 fps at 4k, and WORK. ON. THE GAME. ITSELF.

    Thank you for this, Mr. Brown. The world deserves to see and know this. Well done.

  3. Far cry, fallout,and elder scrolls could use it

  4. Too bad we’ll never see this system in anything but Warner Brother related games.

  5. The first Olog-hai I killed became a Stitch, and I had to kill him over 10 times!

  6. funny how the game totally came from elder scrolls but they didnt bother copyrighting it… just for the bastards to do so Nd this would been awesome

  7. been kinda funny. Dark souls ACTUALLY had this system, but more so for covenant than nemesis

  8. shame murder games are just too big to keep downloaded, I ended up copying as many games to flash drives as back up because of War

  9. the UNIQUE orc they had for the who passed I never met just to see him in the end credits. Wonder if he actually shows up. Funny how online has pokemon battles

  10. I was actually bummed about bruce and stopping there

  11. One of my best experience’s in the game was in the early game before I got the ring of power. I kill some no name orc captain with fire and he becomes “the flame of war” (strong and badass as hell). He proceeds to kick my ass multiple times and becomes overlord. When I finally get the ring of power within the story he is now the overlord of one of the toughest fortresses in the game. So through the entire campaign I have this rival I am set on fighting. Three forts later I fight through his captain’s and war lords, Infiltrate spies into his fortress only to finally face him in a epic duel and defeat him!

    One of the best gaming experience’s I’ve ever had.

  12. One small thing I really like about the whole hierarchy thing is that when captains get promoted their appearance changes slightly seemingly signifying their new higher rank.

  13. I think a Nemesis style system would make the Far Cry games very interesting for me.

  14. Very interesting. Im not a fan of this style of game but based on your video im going to go buy it right now. Thank you

  15. In Shadow of War i fucked up by throwing Thrak in fire. He cameback Thrak the Flame. He is almost resistant to everything. Fire, frost, can’t vault. Boom last fight he downed me as usual. And a orc I didn’t know never met or dominated saved me. Now im on a quest to find this mysterious savior

  16. There’s a game coming out that’s inspired by Bladerunner called Vigilance 2099. Supposedly, it uses a system that’s inspired by the Nemesis System. For anyone interested, should check it out

  17. Middle earth games were amazing, they kinda deserved more praise

  18. I remember at the beginning of the game there was this one screaming fucker that would come back every damn time, eventually when your forced out of the beginning area I forgot about him untill I had basically finished the game where you get betrayed. I go back and he comes and finds me… needless to say I had a great time forcefully taking away his kneecap privileges. though I dont remember what I did with him.

  19. This video was too long. Halfway through it, I got hungry so I left it playing and went to the kitchen to fix myself a sandwich. But then I found out that I'm out of mayonnaise so I went to a store. There, I saw the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my whole life. But I'm a really shy person so I took up a three-year personality development course so I could introduce myself. She was very friendly and all, but unfortunately, she had a boyfriend. So I said, all good, I'm a mature person. I wanted the best for her and I harbored no illusion that I am the best person for her and she seemed happy with her boyfriend, so I didn't bother her anymore. But we kept in touch and we became friends and I got over my crush on her. Then she broke up with her boyfriend, we drank some alcohol because of it. I told her she'll be fine and I wished her well. I still think she's the most beautiful woman in the world, but like I said, I am over my crush on her. It was like five years already since I first saw her. Besides, I am quite happy with the friendship I developed with her. It was more important than a crush. So we kept hanging out, drinking, having coffee, and all. I had a girlfriend, she started dating other guys. My girlfriend wanted to live some other life without me in it, so I said, "Okay, I want the best for you and I want you to pursue your happiness." My lady friend and I drank alcohol about it, and she gave me the same advice I gave her when she was in that position and I became okay with the breakup immediately. But we were really drunk, so she spent the night in my apartment. I only have one bed, so you know what that means: She took the bed and I slept on the couch. But on the couch, I really can't sleep. Something was bothering me. So I tossed and turned for about three hours, then I finally couldn''t take it anymore, I stood up and went straight to my room where she's sleeping. I approached the bed, gently sat on it and I reached for her shoulder to pull her closer to me. She stirred and woke up. She asked what's up. I told her, "you know, the first time I saw you, I was watching a video and left it playing to get myself a sandwich then went to the store to get some mayo then I got so distracted by life that I forgot to finish the video." She said, "You know what, I've been wondering about a weird noise in your night drawer." So we opened that drawer, and lo and behold, there's my phone and this video still has two minutes of play time on it

  20. Shadow of Mordor is one of the games that proved to me the value of trophy systems. Getting the platinum showed me how robust the nemesis system is and the kinds of stories it can create (or stories you can create with it). Playing puppet master with the orcs and manipulating their hierarchy was some of the most fun I had on my ps4.

  21. You also see the pinnacle of an orc's personality, and thus allow it to make a much deeper impression, the moment it manifests. So when a grunt kills you, the personality generated really sidelines you more than a combat one liner. For example: in the Minas siege on chapter 1, I was killed by an opportunistic grunt who hit me while I was trying to finish a captain. His line was "Why wouldn't you look at me during, Ranger?" And his name was Prakk the Thirsty. He is my Bodyguard because I love his character too much to sentence him to Overlordship and I want more of his promiscuously implicative lines on my adventures.

  22. Once i shamed a burning captain and next time i met him he had the traite "fear of fire"

  23. I killed a Orc blood brother, he instantly came to get revenge and succeeded in killing me. He then became a legendary orc, I shamed him because I wanted him in my army but instead he actually became stronger and used the fact that I shamed him to become stronger so he could take revenge on me, his name was "Ratak the Unshamable".

  24. Man I love this game sucks that the late game isn’t really that fun

  25. Love when I kill an orc and hear screeching in the back then “YOU KILLED MY BLOOD BROTHER”

  26. sadly WB arent allowed anyone to use this system…

  27. This needs to be in a pirate game-every single captain with a ship

  28. Wow I've never encountered an overlord being overtaken by another orc

  29. I was once killed by a grunt. He started rhyming. I knew I had a new future war chief to grab.

  30. Ugh I hate gameplay patents. Like how minigames in loading screens was patented.

  31. the nemesis system is so good, that the actual story of the game with cutscenes feels like an interruption

  32. I have this one Orc who I always bring around on any map and make him my bodyguard. The reason I do this is because he's too damn OP. Orcs that are really hard to kill and gives me a hard time, he kills instantly in with one swipe. He's got that shadow step ability (not sure what it's called) and a cursed weapon. Instantly deletes any Orc

  33. im interested in the next level of this mechanic

  34. How is this system not in other games? It's so cool

  35. I remember one Orc, Uruk the slave ( later dubbed Uruk the inmortal).

    I was having a scuffle with sone high lvl orcs who downed me, and a shitty slave killed me. Well he became a a top orc, so I hunted him down and he killed me again. So I went after him again, I killed him (so I thought) just to see one random orc constantly rising the ranks, no idea who it was… and when I assaulted a stronghold… gues who was the commander of it? … the fucking former slave who I thought I killed!!!

  36. Imagine this system in ghosts of tsushima

  37. This video is a great deep dive on the "Every copy of Shadow of Mordor is personalized" creepypasta

  38. These 2 games are some of my favorite games ever

  39. One really cool story was when someone was from the black gate. He was there when talions family was killed and mocked me for is but he killed me. Then I fought him later and he Mocked me again but I killed him.
    And some other stuff to

  40. One time I had 3 or s betray me at the same time, one of them tried to kill my favorite orc but I killed two of them and My favorite one killed the one that tried to kill him

  41. This is one of those games where you don’t need to buy anything (micro transactions) to have fun and succeed

  42. I remember a Olog kept cheating death and he was the only to cheat death like 10 times

  43. I remember doing the arena mission in shadow of war for my first time. I defeated all the other captains and then HE walked in, Grublik the Immovable. Responsible for dozens of my deaths, has killed my favorite captains on several occasions and has caused me to rage quit Shadow of Mordor entirely. So when he walked into the arena with his spear and shield I, no joke, turned off the game for a day because I knew what was bound to pursue.

    The next day after hours of trial and error I was finally able to defeat him only for him to cheat death and remain in my game until the final mission against sarron and his army. And this is the reason I love the nemesis system. It can create situations like that and can leave an impact on peoples playthroughs.

  44. In short, mordor game's stories = beautifully handcrafted procedurally generated stories

  45. Update: In this video I revealed that Monolith and Warner Bros have a patent for the Nemesis System. It turns out that the patent in question had not yet been accepted. However! As for February 5th, that patent has now been approved and goes into effect on February 23rd.

    Patents are unfortunately still somewhat common in game design (Mass Effect's dialogue ring, Eternal Darkness's sanity meter, and The Medium's dual world system have all been patented, or had patents applied for). This is despite the fact that game design is heavily based on inspiration and iteration (see, for example, how the Mordor games use gameplay elements inspired by Assassin's Creed and Arkham Asylum).

    The exact details of how this patent can be enforced (or licensed) is impossible to know without getting legal advice – so if you wish to develop something similar I'd heavily recommend talking to an IP lawyer before getting too into the weeds. And that's the chilling effect of patents: while giant game publishers will be able to get this advice, it may be impossible for smaller studios – leading them to steer clear of making anything similar to avoid legal action.

    Anyway – thanks for watching, and for sharing your Mordor stories in the comments below.

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