Meet your Nemesis

bannerNemesis There’s nothing more satisfying in gaming than feeling like you have direct control over a game’s narrative or that your playthrough is completely unique. Monolith Productions used that thinking to make Shadows of Mordor the biggest surprise in the gaming this past year, thanks in large part to their Nemesis system.

Shadow of Mordor feels like your run of the mill open world sandbox game, until you come to the realization that every orc is trying to use you as a stepping-stone to climb the ladder of orc hierarchy. ‘Over my dead body’, is what you’ll be thinking. But inevitably that’s exactly what will happen. At one point or another one of these snivelling little puss bags is going to get the better of you. At this point the game will zoom in and reveal that the grunt’s name.

Family Tree

In my case his name was Felgrat the Knife. A pale white orc who was able to kill monsters easily, was invulnerable to my combat techniques, had a weakness to fire, and had a hankering to destroy some lesser Uruks. When Felgrat killed me he became stronger, got a gnarly set of armour and rose through the ranks to become a bodyguard. The secret to the Nemesis system is that all the warchiefs have personality, looks and statistics that are randomly generated and unique to each player. Each warchief remembers the interactions it has had with the player.


“Your ma’ boy Felgrat!”

I fought Felgrat dozens of times with him killing me all but one time. Each time he killed me he grew stronger. Whenever I ran into him on the battlefield he taunted me about the last time he slit my throat or stuck me like a pig. I was actually lucky enough to defeat him once only to find that he had survived and was now sporting a gruesome scar down the right side of his face. At some point something truly special happened. I started to take pride in the fact that I was responsible for creating Felgrat. He did not exist in any other player’s game. He was mine, my own, my… precious? The game would not feel as fun without him in it. I began to show pseudo parental instincts. This is a very bizarre feeling to get from video game. Instead of trying to kill Felgrat, I started taking his side when he faced off against other warchiefs. I shadowed him like his guardian angel shooting his enemies with arrows from higher ground. I made him my second in command and he fought at my side to take down the rest of Sauron’s Army. It was like a twisted buddy cop movie. By the end of my time with the game there was level 20 Felgrat the legendary warchief and I standing on a pile of dead orcs with our arms raised like the tag team champions of Middle Earth. I have fought countless boss battles over the years and the memory of most of them have slipped from my mind over time. (including the final boss of this very game) I’m damn sure I won’t be forgetting the battles I have waged against and alongside Felgrat the Knife. This kind of player control over the narrative of a game is exactly where the gaming industry needs to be heading.

Once I got through playing Shadows of Mordor I was thinking over and over in my head, “how else could the Nemesis system be used in future games or other genres?”



NHL nerd

How cool would it be if players of the opposing team in a Hockey or Football game kept track of the events that transpired during the course of a game? Let’s say for example I’m playing a game of NHL and I go out of my way to deliver a bone-crushing hit to John Tavares of the New York Islanders. It would be nice if there were more consequence than the odd scripted fight immediately after the hit. What if the players on the other team started to play more aggressively toward my team? What if they started to target the star player on my team? Does John Tavares challenge that player to a fight later that game? I would love for there to be a way to create a rivalry between two teams that developed throughout the season. One that could potentially come to a climax in the playoffs.




Think Back to GTA San Andreas or Fallout New Vegas. Back to the gangs and different factions that you could join or support. Now imagine the nemesis engine as it was used in Shadows of Mordor applied to those worlds. Being able to rise through the ranks of a gang, influencing each minute detail of the power struggles along the way. Or you could say screw it and bring it all down from inside. Having factions and leaders randomly generated based on the decisions or play style of the gamer would create a sense of ownership.



my crew

The Crew and Drive Club were two games that came out this past year that really caught my attention. Both games were striving for something great. A vast interconnected, online racing game with RPG elements. One in which you can form a team and race other groups from one end of the world to another. Unfortunately the online components of those struggled due to server issues and both games were ditched at the side of the road. Maybe it’s just me, but I get the feeling that there is large percentage of gamers who just don’t give a shit about online play. Or at least give enough of a shit to wait out the game’s issues. I believe these games should go offline. I would develop a deep single player experience. One where you scout out your own team of randomly generated drivers. Drivers with their own random, stats, appearance, and driving tendencies. You can then develop rivalries with other unique drivers and crews. You can see where I’m going with this. Use the Nemesis system!


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