Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor's Orcs Are Dumber on Last Gen Systems

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor's Orcs Are Dumber on Last Gen Systems

mesom___nemesis_system

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor's impressive Nemesis system might need to get slimmed down if the game's going to come to last-gen consoles.

We've seen a lot of cool stuff in the previews for Monolith's sandbox assassination game, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The game's overarching structure is shaped by its unique Nemesis system, which simulates Sauron's entire procedurally-generated chain of command. It's a fascinating idea that turns organic gameplay decisions into mission-spanning objectives - and if you want to experience it, you'd better have a current-generation console. It's apparently too much for last-gen platforms to handle.

"We're very focused on the PS4 and Xbox One," says design director Michael de Plater. Features are designed for those systems first, and while most of them can be safely ported to older hardware (albeit not quite as pretty-looking), some of it will have to be cut out. "The story will be the same and the core gameplay will be the same, but [the Nemesis system] is just so huge in terms of content, calculations and AI we'll just have to try and get as much of it in as we can."

So, on the up-side, PS3 and Xbox 360 players still get to be a Middle-Earth assassin and use all the same climbing and combat techniques, but their enemies won't react as intelligently to the player's personal campaign. It's interesting - the Nemesis system is certainly advanced, especially considering the scope of the game's open world, but last-gen consoles were still plenty powerful. You would think that there would be other systems that could be ditched instead of the game's most attention-grabbing innovation.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is headed for the PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, and (let's not forget) PC sometime this year.

Source: IGN

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"...You would think that there would be other systems that could be ditched instead of the game's most attention-grabbing innovation."

Um. Not to be overly cynical, but I think the decision might have something to do with the fact that they really want people to buy Current (Post Current?) Gen systems.

I suppose the bleed over effect couldn't last forever. Eventually, the large difference in resources would cause more complex/consuming features to not be doable on the other gen hardware.

I just watched a video of "gameplay" footage of this feature and while it sounds very nice indeed, I simply don't understand how it can hog up the amounts of processing power needed for an announcement like this. I'd be very surprised if all those calculations are really done in real time (and why would they need to be?) and I'll be even more surprised if it actually works as awesome as advertised.

In the end, it'll probably just end up assigning attributes and skills (as well as set certain triggers needed for the dialogue etc.) to the orc officers and these attributes are taken into consideration for deciding their course of action. Low courage, slightly damaged and a hand full of mooks just died in combat with him -> choose (generic?) fleeing sequence. And why can't the writing and loading of these (and upgrading of orc mooks to officers) be done in loading screens between missions? Of course the loading times would be longer for the old systems but compared to the loading of textures etc. I'd expect it to be just a drop in the bucket.

In the end, it's going to amount to nothing anyways. It'll be the same as the "Radiant AI" bull with Skyrim, or more appropriately here the whole "SimCity needs Online only to handle its amazingly complex calculations!".

A whole lot of hype, a whole lot of spectacle, for nothing even close to worth it. Even previews done of it have all been static and relatively unchanged amongst the different playthroughs from what I've seen. Heck, if you want to play something that changes up vulnerabilities and all that, go play Rogue Legacy. Much cheaper, much more fun (in the end, I'm willing to bet), and it doesn't blame other consoles for its deficiencies.

That's... odd. Nothing I've seen of the "Nemesis System" sounds particularly demanding in terms of hardware. Cool and interesting sure, but I really don't see anything that wouldn't work on an Xbox 360 or PS3, or even earlier consoles. Is there some big feature of the system I'm unaware of?

Well PC version will have it, no cut content on my platform, once again.

Quantum Glass:
"...You would think that there would be other systems that could be ditched instead of the game's most attention-grabbing innovation."

Um. Not to be overly cynical, but I think the decision might have something to do with the fact that they really want people to buy Current (Post Current?) Gen systems.

A point, this guy has it.

I won't pretend to have much knowledge of coding. But I am currently enrolled in a software development course, and to be perfectly honest, the code required for that kind of AI changes would be baby simple compared to the other coding you would have to be doing anyway. A couple if and booleans for each character, link to different behavior patterns, done.

The only realist disadvantage I can think of is longer loading times, unless they want to come out with more technical information than these I'm calling BS on this.

When I first heard of the Nemesis system I wondered if this was going to be the case. I knew it would be impossible to achieve on the last-gen systems, mostly because of their RAM problem and the aging CPU. Mass Effect 3 for example had to ditch the freakin' holster function because the consoles didn't have enough RAM to handle the extra animation it required. I just wasn't sure if they were going to dumb this down just for the last-gen or simply overhype the entire thing. This is good news.

So how much do we think these guys have been bribed to come up with a feature to temp people into buying next gen consoles?

cursedseishi:
the whole "SimCity needs Online only to handle its amazingly complex calculations!".

My brother from another mother! ( or sister, as the case may be ) you beat me to the punch. It sure smells like the same vague excuse. Part of me wonders what the incentive (or risk / reward analysis, or whathaveyou) looks like for intentionally dumbing down older console ports of games. Not that I have anything but blind cynicism to warrent such a comment but still.

That being said, I have some high hopes for this - what I saw of the gameplay suggested they were very interested in working with the assumption that everyone was familiar with Assassin's Creed (being the engine on which it was developed and all) and instead of simply reskinning it were actually figuring out what the next evolution might entail from a gameplay perspective.

Well, obviously AI needs a lot of RAM and 512 mb just doesn't cut it anymore.

This will be more akin to the old ports of "360/PS3 being good, Wii/PS2 being shit".

SupahGamuh:
Well, obviously AI needs a lot of RAM and 512 mb just doesn't cut it anymore.

This will be more akin to the old ports of "360/PS3 being good, Wii/PS2 being shit".

A good example would be the dramatic difference between "The Force Unleashed" on the PS3/Xbox 360 vs PS2. It had almost all the gameplay elements, but shittier graphics and no advanced physics. Or Mercenaries 2. Or Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Although the last example was a better game on the PS2. More true to the original formula and with a better story.

Sorry, but doesn't the Nemesis system just involve keeping track of a few dozen Orcs and what they think about you? That doesn't sound like it would take very much processor power.

This article needs to pick a time period and stick to it.

The title refers to the 360 and PS3 as "last-gen" consoles (which is correct), then the article tagline proceeds to refer to them both as "current-gen" and the new Xbone and PS4 as "next-gen" (which is wrong), and then the article text swaps back to "last-gen".

We need to stop referring to the Xbone and PS4 as "next-gen". They have been released, they're out, they're the current gen now.

Flutterguy:
Well PC version will have it, no cut content on my platform, once again.

I didn't actually see that. I looked, but they're only talking about the PS4 and XBONE getting this. I could certainly see them classing the PC as "Last-Gen" just to try to drive sales on the consoles...

Starke:
I didn't actually see that. I looked, but they're only talking about the PS4 and XBONE getting this. I could certainly see them classing the PC as "Last-Gen" just to try to drive sales on the consoles...

Compared to the PC, the PS4 and Xbone qualify as last gen.

I really hope this Nemesis system is as cool as it sounds, and not some scripting they wrote specifically for the tech demo.

Starke:

Flutterguy:
Well PC version will have it, no cut content on my platform, once again.

I didn't actually see that. I looked, but they're only talking about the PS4 and XBONE getting this. I could certainly see them classing the PC as "Last-Gen" just to try to drive sales on the consoles...

I sure hope not, considering how stupid it would be to think that. But you can never underestimate a gaming companies opinion of PC gamers and their PCs. Cough Infinity Ward cough.

Well, at least they're using the next-gen hardware for something better then rendering characters nosehairs. It remains to be seen whether this system is any good, but if you can't run your program due to memory/processing/etc on hardware, you really can't do anything about it unless its grossly inefficient (and then you'd still probably need outside consulting to figure out why you made it that way)

008Zulu:

Starke:
I didn't actually see that. I looked, but they're only talking about the PS4 and XBONE getting this. I could certainly see them classing the PC as "Last-Gen" just to try to drive sales on the consoles...

Compared to the PC, the PS4 and Xbone qualify as last gen.

I really hope this Nemesis system is as cool as it sounds, and not some scripting they wrote specifically for the tech demo.

What I saw in the demo was a system where you have a string of possible modifiers that could be applied to any boss grade NPC. Which sounds really cool, but the demo was trying to make it sound like it was a lot more emergent then the system could actually be.

So you encounter an NPC, and kill them, all of their subordinates now get the "player has killed my boss" experience. Then you encounter one of them and burn them, and they get the "player has hurt me (burned)" experience. Then you blackmail them, and you get the "player is blackmailing me" experience...

Also, remember, all of those experience modules have associated recorded dialog, so while there could be a couple hundred, it is still a finite supply.

It sounds really cool, and in implementation it could be great, but, it shouldn't be any more processor intensive than, say, Skyrim or Diablo 3.

Daemascus:

Starke:

Flutterguy:
Well PC version will have it, no cut content on my platform, once again.

I didn't actually see that. I looked, but they're only talking about the PS4 and XBONE getting this. I could certainly see them classing the PC as "Last-Gen" just to try to drive sales on the consoles...

I sure hope not, considering how stupid it would be to think that. But you can never underestimate a gaming companies opinion of PC gamers and their PCs. Cough Infinity Ward cough.

This is also the same publisher that said "fixing a broken game is less important than selling you DLC" and "let's just randomly swap out developers on franchises, because that's a good idea." So, stupid would be their middle name if it wasn't literally "bros".

Starke:

008Zulu:

Starke:
I didn't actually see that. I looked, but they're only talking about the PS4 and XBONE getting this. I could certainly see them classing the PC as "Last-Gen" just to try to drive sales on the consoles...

Compared to the PC, the PS4 and Xbone qualify as last gen.

I really hope this Nemesis system is as cool as it sounds, and not some scripting they wrote specifically for the tech demo.

What I saw in the demo was a system where you have a string of possible modifiers that could be applied to any boss grade NPC. Which sounds really cool, but the demo was trying to make it sound like it was a lot more emergent then the system could actually be.

So you encounter an NPC, and kill them, all of their subordinates now get the "player has killed my boss" experience. Then you encounter one of them and burn them, and they get the "player has hurt me (burned)" experience. Then you blackmail them, and you get the "player is blackmailing me" experience...

Also, remember, all of those experience modules have associated recorded dialog, so while there could be a couple hundred, it is still a finite supply.

It sounds really cool, and in implementation it could be great, but, it shouldn't be any more processor intensive than, say, Skyrim or Diablo 3.

its not processor intesive. its mempry intensive. the PS3 only has 256mbs of ram, and theirs pelenty of stories of the massive hacks required to let games remeber with it (or failing, see skyrim, and why no new boderlands 2 DLC)

the 360 isn't any better

oliver.begg:

Starke:

008Zulu:

Compared to the PC, the PS4 and Xbone qualify as last gen.

I really hope this Nemesis system is as cool as it sounds, and not some scripting they wrote specifically for the tech demo.

What I saw in the demo was a system where you have a string of possible modifiers that could be applied to any boss grade NPC. Which sounds really cool, but the demo was trying to make it sound like it was a lot more emergent then the system could actually be.

So you encounter an NPC, and kill them, all of their subordinates now get the "player has killed my boss" experience. Then you encounter one of them and burn them, and they get the "player has hurt me (burned)" experience. Then you blackmail them, and you get the "player is blackmailing me" experience...

Also, remember, all of those experience modules have associated recorded dialog, so while there could be a couple hundred, it is still a finite supply.

It sounds really cool, and in implementation it could be great, but, it shouldn't be any more processor intensive than, say, Skyrim or Diablo 3.

its not processor intesive. its mempry intensive. the PS3 only has 256mbs of ram, and theirs pelenty of stories of the massive hacks required to let games remeber with it (or failing, see skyrim, and why no new boderlands 2 DLC)

the 360 isn't any better

Yeah, not that memory intensive either, unless they're being really stupid with their code, which is possible. Worst case, each boss NPC will chew up a couple megs of memory while they're onscreen. If they're keeping all of the Nemesis characters in memory at all times, that could cause problems, it would also be incredibly stupid. If you have a character on the other side of the map, you don't need them in active memory.

The only possibilities are that it's running this package for every NPC enemy, which, is also stupid, and could easily result in massive save files, they're keeping info they don't need in memory, or they're storing these experience modules in a ridiculously inefficient way. Until we actually see the system at play it'll be a little hard to know which is the case.

Lunncal:
That's... odd. Nothing I've seen of the "Nemesis System" sounds particularly demanding in terms of hardware. Cool and interesting sure, but I really don't see anything that wouldn't work on an Xbox 360 or PS3, or even earlier consoles. Is there some big feature of the system I'm unaware of?

Most likely RAM.

The system's biggest sin is not enough RAM. I'd imagine that high res textures, high end models, and a tracker of an entire chain of command with advanced AI isn't doable.

Keep in mind this is 2005 tech. It wasn't meant to last forever.

I call bullshit. In the vein of SimCity's "Simulation". Thy just want to say "ooh, look at our game, it's TOTALLY next-gen"

Adam Jensen:
When I first heard of the Nemesis system I wondered if this was going to be the case. I knew it would be impossible to achieve on the last-gen systems, mostly because of their RAM problem and the aging CPU. Mass Effect 3 for example had to ditch the freakin' holster function because the consoles didn't have enough RAM to handle the extra animation it required. I just wasn't sure if they were going to dumb this down just for the last-gen or simply overhype the entire thing. This is good news.

Couldn't agree with this more. It's making it seem a lot more likely that this is going to live up to, at least some, of it's hype. Plus, it's nice that there's such a big focus on the AI rather than just putting all the resources into shinier visuals.

Seems to be a lot of shallow hypothesis and assumptions regarding the Nemesis system! How about taking the dev's word for it? After all, with the combined install base of the 360 and PS3, it would be silly to curtail this aspect of the game if they didn't have to. As some have posted, there was always going to be a tipping point, and for this particular game they have reached it. Is that hard to believe?

I know jack shit about the technical requirements of this game, or how complicated their AI system actually is. I also don't really have a hard time believing that last gen consoles aren't able to do something, seeing as they're really ancient. I'm gonna believe the dev with their fairly believable story that 2005 hardware isn't able to do something designed for today's hardware instead of coming up with some silly conspiracy theory that both Microsoft and Sony teamed up to get this dev to cripple their game to try to sell new consoles.

So much for MS claims that they've got a system for people with online connectivity issues. The 360 will be dead by 2015. MS is abandoning it like red headed step child.

If true, this is totally disappointing. Where can us 'last-gen'ers start complaining about this to start the social media revolution?

Ultratwinkie:

Lunncal:
That's... odd. Nothing I've seen of the "Nemesis System" sounds particularly demanding in terms of hardware. Cool and interesting sure, but I really don't see anything that wouldn't work on an Xbox 360 or PS3, or even earlier consoles. Is there some big feature of the system I'm unaware of?

Most likely RAM.

The system's biggest sin is not enough RAM. I'd imagine that high res textures, high end models, and a tracker of an entire chain of command with advanced AI isn't doable.

Keep in mind this is 2005 tech. It wasn't meant to last forever.

I don't know, that still sounds unlikely. I mean games like Skyrim and Oblivion track far, far more than a few binary "Event X Happened" (He burned my face >:/) or "Event Y Happened" (He killed my boss >:/) flags for each and every character you meet in the world[1]. That type of data is so small compared to textures and the like that it barely needs to be taken into account at all. I still think either the spokesperson is wrong, or the nemesis system does something else that hasn't been mentioned yet.

[1] Off the top of my head: Health, Mana, Stamina, Gender, Race, Vampire?, List of AI "factions" it belongs to, equipped items, held items, durability for each item, Opinion of player, 'Honour' (decides whether or not it will report crimes), known spells and skill level of each skill in the game. There's probably a lot more, but the point is that a couple of extra true/false flags wouldn't make a difference at all.

Lunncal:

Ultratwinkie:

Lunncal:
That's... odd. Nothing I've seen of the "Nemesis System" sounds particularly demanding in terms of hardware. Cool and interesting sure, but I really don't see anything that wouldn't work on an Xbox 360 or PS3, or even earlier consoles. Is there some big feature of the system I'm unaware of?

Most likely RAM.

The system's biggest sin is not enough RAM. I'd imagine that high res textures, high end models, and a tracker of an entire chain of command with advanced AI isn't doable.

Keep in mind this is 2005 tech. It wasn't meant to last forever.

I don't know, that still sounds unlikely. I mean games like Skyrim and Oblivion track far, far more than a few binary "Event X Happened" (He burned my face >:/) or "Event Y Happened" (He killed my boss >:/) flags for each and every character you meet in the world[1]. That type of data is so small compared to textures and the like that it barely needs to be taken into account at all. I still think either the spokesperson is wrong, or the nemesis system does something else that hasn't been mentioned yet.

Skyrim used to be much more complex. The civil war was actually a war with catapults, etc. They cut it. RAM issues.

In fact, a lot of skyrim was cut.

The nemesis system is said to track every orc, every stronghold, every town, etc. Skyrim's tracking is binary,everything is done ahead of time like who is a companion. It doesn't change. It doesn't change AI or anything.

Option A or B. Both are static and just change scenery and nothing else. White run being attacked changed nothing beyond dialogue.

This system is said to be dynamic, and changes the attitude of the AI. That goes well beyond what Skyrim does and into what it wanted to do territory.

[1] Off the top of my head: Health, Mana, Stamina, Gender, Race, Vampire?, List of AI "factions" it belongs to, equipped items, held items, durability for each item, Opinion of player, 'Honour' (decides whether or not it will report crimes), known spells and skill level of each skill in the game. There's probably a lot more, but the point is that a couple of extra true/false flags wouldn't make a difference at all.

I would decide to just not release this game on last-gen consoles. Its going to be less good, but in a difficult to perceive way. People who didnt catch this memo are just going to say "the Nemesis thing I heard about was bullshit! the AI sucks and so does the game." So any amount of extra sales from the other consoles are going to be lost twice over due to bad word-of-mouth.

Berling's Beard:
If true, this is totally disappointing. Where can us 'last-gen'ers start complaining about this to start the social media revolution?

Complaining that your old system isnt good enough to run a new game? Should the entire industry stop progressing so that you arent left behind?

 

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