A patent filed by Take-Two Interactive details a new system developed by Rockstar to manage the driving of NPCs, with details explicitly referring to the routes and behavior of the vehicles. Could it be for GTA 6?
The patent application, entitled “System and method for virtual driving in a game environment”, was introduced by Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two in October 2020, and was recently discovered by Reddit users. The system described in it was developed by Rockstar’s lead AI programmer, Simon Parr, as well as David Hynd, Rockstar’s associate chief technology officer.
This new system is designed to create “a realistic virtual world that is not limited by hardware and software limitations”, which is a response to conventional systems that cannot produce the kind of NPC behaviors that gamers expect within the limits of today’s processor and memory bandwidth. This is specifically in relation to traffic behavior; the patent details boats, cars and drivers everywhere. The described system would result in a more realistic and immersive traffic simulation.
Of particular interest is that the system means that “each NPC can define their own specific characteristics to carry out their routes on the road”. These features include understanding acceleration, stopping time and distances, top speeds, and cornering speeds. NPCs and artificial intelligence systems could use these characteristics to generate more realistic drivers on the roads of a video game world.
Without drawing concrete conclusions, it is possible that the system designed by the Rockstar programmers for a vehicular traffic system is for Grand Theft Auto 6. The project is not mentioned in the patent, but IGN understands that GTA 6 could be currently in development at Rockstar, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that new technology will be produced for the game.
Of particular interest is a line from the patent that explains that the system is for “Virtual driving and object management in a multiplayer network gaming community”. If the system has been designed for a multiplayer game, the question arises as to whether Grand Theft Auto 6 will be an online experience. Alternatively, perhaps this system was created to be implemented in GTA Online; the details refer to the Xbox One and PS4 consoles rather than the next-gen machines that GTA 6 would presumably be released on.
In addition, it is described that the system works through a cloud network that communicates with user consoles. If the system is for GTA 6, even if the game is not multiplayer, it is very possible that the game requires an always-on internet connection to provide NPC behavior processing.
For context, the patent includes an assessment of current shortcomings with NPC driving systems, noting that limited resources mean simulation is reduced in complexity. Current processing power and memory constraints mean that some NPCs “disappear when the player approaches the NPC”explains the patent. He points out that current NPC systems only allow a predetermined number of NPC controlled vehicles, and that “Video game players would expect to see more than a predetermined number of NPC controlled vehicles in a video game for a realistic experience”. In addition, the patent also describes that current conventional systems are based on a behavior that “does not have a high level knowledge” traffic, which can make vehicles unable to plan their routes accordingly to, for example, blocked roads. The new system is designed to prevent situations like this.
While Rockstar has been silent on the development of the next Grand Theft Auto, it recently released The Cayo Perico Heist for GTA Online, which was the result of seven years of game evolution and finally allows for a solo play approach to GTA content. On-line.