Warner Bros. Interactive has officially secured a patent on its “Nemesis” mechanic, first introduced in 2014’s Lord of the Rings-adjacent adventure Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor and its 2017 sequel Middle-Earth: Shadows of War. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office notes that the patent goes into effect on February 23, with an option to extend until 2035.
Developed by Monolith Productions, the Nemesis system is a mechanic whereby NPC characters recall interactions with the player, and thus react or grow accordingly for further possible encounters. For example, in the Middle-Earth games, the Nemesis system allows Uruks who defeat or escape protagonist Talion to “remember” the battle, perhaps referencing the encounter in dialogue when the pair next meet on the battlefield. In addition, the victorious Uruk will be promoted within its unit for causing Talion’s demise, receiving a stat boost and perhaps even a change in physical appearance.
The Nemesis system patent – very loosely summarized – is a patent for a hierarchy of procedurally generated NPCs that can be promoted or demoted by their in-game success and failures, whilst retaining “memories” of their previous encounters with the player.