Home Gaming How Shadow Of Mordor’s “unique and hideous snowflakes” shaped the game

How Shadow Of Mordor’s “unique and hideous snowflakes” shaped the game

2 min read
25

Ork-Snork

It’s been four months since Shadow Of Mordor was launched. Four glorious months wherein the game has reaped plenty of praise, and plenty of awards. It’s a game that not only makes proper use of the Tolkien license that it happens to be set in, but has managed to be more than just a slick Assassin’s Creed clone. And that’s all thanks to the “hideous snowflakes” that formed the backbone of the Nemesis system in that game.

Offering a post-game dissection to Gamasutra, Monolith Design Director Michael de Plater wrote about how the Nemesis system, a gameplay feature that allowed you to form Shakespearian levels of deception and treachery throughout the Orc ranks while crushing their chain of command, helped shape Shadow Of Mordor. “There was no part of the team not strongly involved in the Nemesis System: writing and VO, AI, animation and facial animation, cameras, game design, UI and level design,” Plater wrote.

With all the pieces in place, Character Art did an amazing job realizing our Uruks as a rich set of unique and hideous snowflakes.

And that’s a winning part of the game right there. Those Orcs, were horrible, vile enemies that managed to stand apart from the rest of the rabble. And having a personal enemy in Shadow Of Mordor gave players a personal stake in the game. Something that many a player experienced and enjoyed, which resonated well with the Monolith team.

“As soon as the game launched, we began to see players creating and sharing their own videos and stories of their experience of the Nemesis System and how much they loved to hate their enemies,” de Plater added.

Nemesis-System

It’s a complex system however, and one that gave Monolith several headaches to properly design and execute. “The Nemesis System started with a fairly simple idea of personal villains, then during pre-production, it went through quite a bit of feature creep which made it significantly more complex and took it further away from the core promise,” de Plater explained.

For example at one point we had multiple Uruk [Orc] Factions with separate bars for Morale and Discipline, each Captain influenced these Bars and their state determined the behavior of the Orcs in combat as well as emergent missions. At this point, their Hierarchy UI looked somewhat like a Christmas tree.

Eventually, the Nemesis System was refined and boiled down to its current format, with the Domination feature allowing players to turn the tide of battle without breaking the game. Overall, I think Shadow Of Mordor was a great success. Something old peppered with something new, cemented with overall great design and though.

Last Updated: January 21, 2015

25 Comments

  1. RIP oom Frikkadel (yes I know it has been some time, I still miss him)

    Reply

  2. Blood Emperor Trevor

    January 21, 2015 at 11:34

    rofl @ header.

    Reply

  3. Admiral Chief

    January 21, 2015 at 11:34

    I still wanna get this game

    Reply

    • ToshZA

      January 21, 2015 at 11:35

      It’s really cool. Nothing better than Orc hunting 😀

      Reply

    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      January 21, 2015 at 11:36

      Another 8 months or so to wait before the GOTY release hehe

      Reply

      • ToshZA

        January 21, 2015 at 11:38

        haha, and this is a rare game that’s worth current price in its current form. 🙂

        Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        January 21, 2015 at 11:41

        Aye, I’m not phased for now, but that Evolve is looking at me 🙁

        I’m tempted to break my rule (since Witcher 3 has already been graciously gifted)

        Reply

  4. Geoff Murphy

    January 21, 2015 at 11:37

    If SOM was simply a proof of concept, I can’t wait to see what they do with the sequel.

    Reply

  5. HairyEwok

    January 21, 2015 at 11:43

    Dem photoshop skillzzzz joohhhh. We’re not worthy! (Darryn is the guy holding out his photoshop hand)
    http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view/120924/we-re-not-worthy-waynes-world-o.gif

    Reply

  6. Raptor Rants A Lot

    January 21, 2015 at 11:49

    Lel. Dat header

    Reply

    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      January 21, 2015 at 11:50

      You laugh now, but there are 7 people in it.

      Reply

      • HairyEwok

        January 21, 2015 at 11:52

        Oh snap!

        Reply

      • ToshZA

        January 21, 2015 at 11:52

        There aren’t, but that captain’s power rating is 7.

        Llew doesn’t stand a chance.

        Reply

        • Blood Emperor Trevor

          January 21, 2015 at 11:55

          Orcs are people too. Don’t be speciest!

          Reply

          • ToshZA

            January 21, 2015 at 11:57

            LOL! But. But. But. They’re filthy orcses.

          • Quo Vadis?

            January 21, 2015 at 12:14

            What species or subspecies of hominem are they then? ;P

          • Blood Emperor Trevor

            January 21, 2015 at 12:16

            Orcusfilthiuslawyerus?

          • Quo Vadis?

            January 21, 2015 at 12:21

            No, that’s an urban legend I’m afraid :/

      • Raptor Rants A Lot

        January 21, 2015 at 12:15

        Oh come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Reply

  7. Hammersteyn

    January 21, 2015 at 11:50

    Was a definite high light of 2014. You die easily enough at the start of the mage but as you upgrade and learn the in and outs you become more like Aragorn. Hardly any scratch. I hope they add classes in the sequel. Like mages,dwarfs and elves

    Reply

    • Raptor Rants A Lot

      January 21, 2015 at 12:16

      highlight* one word dude

      Reply

  8. Ghost In The Rift

    January 21, 2015 at 12:09

    Think i should get this after i’m done with DA:I and before The Witcher 3 release….

    Reply

  9. Jonah Cash

    January 21, 2015 at 13:00

    I still don’t like this game!! It is just not fun… repetitive like hell!! And yes I know Fifa and Destiny seem repetitive, but hey are at leas fun to play!!

    Reply

  10. Nikola

    January 21, 2015 at 13:32

    This game was sooooooooooooo average I do not understand the hype about it really. This for me was an let down for 2014 games…Good game worth a playthrough I guess but expected much more from it!!

    Reply

  11. Hesperus Phosphorus

    January 21, 2015 at 15:10

    ‘…great design and though.’

    Huh?

    Reply

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