One of the most distinctive features to come out on video games last console generation was the Nemesis System, the big moneymaking attraction of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel, Shadow of War. Now, however, a Nemesis system patent may be in the future from Warner Bros if they’re lucky.
The Nemesis system specifically kept track of the various different Orc officers spread throughout the game. Each one had a different personality, different method of fighting, and different strengths and weaknesses. They also remembered victories and defeats that you and them inflicted on one another.
This helped to create a huge amount of emergent storytelling, allowing you to form rivalries between you and a captain, or engage in politicking among the different captains by manipulating them against each other. It was a novel system, and part of the reason the games were such a success.
The story about the Nemesis system patent actually extends back to 2016, where Warner Bros attempted to patent the system but apparently was unsuccessful. All of this is chronicled in a video about the Nemesis system by the YouTube channel Game Maker’s Toolkit, which you can watch by following this link.
It wouldn’t be the first time a game mechanic was patented by a publisher or studio. BioWare patented its famous dialogue wheel, and Take-Two Interactive patented the AI system that Rockstar Games uses to simulate crowd behavior.
If Warner Bros is able to patent the Nemesis system (as a current listing on GooglePatents says a patent filed in 2019 is “pending”), it will be the only publisher allowed to make use of it in their games. Rumors are already spreading that Batman: Gotham Knights will make use of the system, along with Harry Potter: Legends.
Whether Warner Bros is able to make that Nemesis system patent happen remains to be seen, but hopefully it will fall through so that other games can make use of the mechanic at some point in the future. If they’re successful though, there’s no reason that other studios and publishers can’t make similar systems.