Creating new experiences within an established world is a very difficult task for any creator. In this case, they’re no longer working with a blank canvas. It is in fact a cluttered, paved and worn tapestry. So how does one create within a world that already possesses such definition?
Well, take a look at the work the developers at Monolith Productions have done. Their 2013 hit release, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, is a magnificent example of how to take an revered, existing concept and make it their own. This was done through a number of important things. They include engaging characters, compelling narratives and one of the most antagonizing game systems ever created.
The Nemesis System surely is responsible for Monolith’s success, but so is its ability to create. The Lord of the Rings is a precious world to millions. The studio knows this and has done nothing but carefully flesh it out even further. Monolith Productions art director Philip Straub spoke about why he does not feel limited by the already hashed out universe.
“It’s really not limiting at all. I don’t feel limited at all. We have such a good relationship with Middle-earth Enterprises in terms of how we develop our content. Because of that, we’re able to stay within the lore. Michael de Plater and I have a very deep understanding of what makes sense and what doesn’t. So there’s nothing like having a creative sandbox to work with that’s quite large and then figuring out how to expand that universe in a meaningful way,” Straub told IGN.
The fact that Straub and his team don’t feel limited by Tolkien’s established world is either a testament of courage or arrogance. I move for the former to be the case, given the fantastic job they’ve done thus far with the series. The Nemesis System is a feature more developers should be trying to mimic, given its addictive and enticing qualities.
If Monolith came up with systems that weren’t as effective as they are, then perhaps their work within the brand might not be as appreciated. I’m not saying the Middle-earth series is as good as the Nemesis System is, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have it be as amazing as it is.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War will release this coming Aug. 22. The game will be available on PS4, PS4 Pro, Project Scorpio, Xbox One and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Shadow of War.
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