Draco was looking for articles about writing demons. When Draco was searching for angels Draco got nothing angelic at all but when Draco looked for demons Draco found pretty much all of them included angels. Angels gets you nada but demons gets you Angels and Demons apparently. Not the point. So Draco found this article which appeared to be titled Heavens and Hells but was actually Havens and Hells and it was all about how there are settings which feel like a safe home base and others which feel like a hostile land of danger with nothing good at all. This interested Draco because of Shadow of Morder.
Draco didn’t like Shadow of Mordor for two reasons. One of those reasons was the very concept discussed in that article. Mordor is a horrible place to be. If it were just a dangerous place it’d be fine but it is absolutely Hell and it’s the only setting. Like in Divinity Original Sin II there is an island which had been taken over by Demons and corruption yadda yadda. It has all the makings of a hell but it doesn’t feel bad because you can actually leave. It’s the type of place you’d want to watch your back in but overall it’s a place where that has some hope that lets you catch your breath while Mordor in Shadow of Mordor is entirely hopeless and you never really get to leave. You can fight your way through Mordor, gaining allies, conquering lands, and slaying foes, but at the end of the day it’s all meaningless because it’s a Hell. There’s always something that wants to kill you and you never get to relax. It’s boring. Like a constant tension but overall a really low constant tension. It’d be like moving to a town with only hermit crabs but the hermit crabs had put a bounty on your head. Sure maybe a hermit crab will kill you but who really cares what these dumb angry hermit crabs are doing when you have the much bigger problem of accidentally moving to a town with only hermit crabs. Why did you do that? Why not live somewhere else? Nothing against hermit crabs specifically, only the angry murderous ones. It’s unlikely any business catering to humans could possibly stay open in this town. Anyway, a story that’s just constant tension or a story with no tension are very much the same and pretty boring in generally.
It’s like how in horror they don’t just have the monster scream into the camera for two hours. A film with a monster screaming into a camera for two hours might do well in an indie market as a joke for maybe a week at best but no one would really enjoy it and no one would be scared by the end. If you want to make something most people would like you have to vary the flow. Maybe, after screaming for a minute, the monster could go get a sandwich. But then they’re trying to open a jar, you see, and they can’t get the lid to move an inch. That’s some tension. Then maybe you could have a monster friend show up and they could try and who knows maybe they can open it. Already we have improved this movie greatly.
This gif hardly relates but Draco started getting into the look at this persons face melt section of gifs so it’s good enough.
There are times we are afraid and times we are relieved and it’s those times that make the next spot of fear even more powerful. If a plant gets no water it’ll die but if a plant gets only water it’ll die. So Draco would have preferred if there had been some area in Shadow of Mordor where there were friendly folk in a peaceful environment where you could buy things and chat. In Transistor there are these backdoor areas where you could lie on a hammock and bounce a beach ball. Eventually you even unlock a dog to play with. Unlocking dogs is 10/10 game design. Shadow of Mordor should have had like a magic ghost dog.
Settings that make the reader, viewer, listener uncomfortable can be great but if you only have uncomfortable settings well maybe everyone would prefer a pillow. Very few people would choose to voluntarily spend their time trapped in a hell.
There was another thing Draco didn’t like about Shadow of Mordor aside from the flat knockoff LOTR characters which you know, you gotta forgive that a little. Sadly it doesn’t relate to the article. See, the thing everyone always brings up about Shadow of Mordor is the Nemesis system. The Nemesis system was a great mechanic to create dynamic stories involving super cool orc rivals. Seeing your favorite orc and defeating them was great fun and for some reason no one has really used this idea again. XCOM tried but they were too static overall. They were likeable characters sure but there could have been more there like adaption and the opposite of adaption. Plus since there were only 3 once you killed them all it got really boring.
So the Nemesis System was all well and great but it actually ended up being too good. So there was this one orc, he had a bird mask and was a tracker. You’d be doing something else and then bird mask would swoop down and be like ” Hey. I found you.” and then he’d “die”. It was always a relief to see bird mask cheat death, until it wasn’t. Unless you actually beheaded the orcs they’d have a chance to come back and well bird mask lost his head. The coolest dude in the entire game dead before the middle. At that point all the even marginally cool ones were dead and replaced by losers. It’d be like if one of the Captain Planet kids died and was replaced by some new kid with the power of teeth. People complain about heart enough as it is. Bird mask made the bleak hell that is Mordor into something to look forward to. Sure it was bad but there was a reason to be there; kill bird mask. When they died and were replaced it was just another signal saying that nothing in Mordor matters at all. Just a bunch of people no one cares about wandering a land on its death-bed and Draco isn’t talking about [Spoilers] A Feast For Crows.
This is essentially what bird mask looked like. Draco’s bird mask person was cooler.