A new patent has been filed by Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive hints that the studio is working on new gameplay systems to improve the situational knowledge of its NPCs.
The patent, which is called “System And Method For Virtual Navigation In A Gaming Environment,” outlines tech directed at building a “realistic experience” in video games by turning AI smarter at recognizing their environment. Clearly, the patent is for NPC vehicle driving behaviors. It is amazing that they are working more aware NPCs in the game.
Currently, in games, NPCs can only detect a few objects in their quick vicinity. This level of exposure is typically relegated to other cars exclusively, which is why NPC who is driving the car tend to not only run into each other but also into the objects located within the world. With this new patent, though, Rockstar is looking to provide NPCs a new driving profile.
According to the patent–which was filed by Rockstar’s associate director of technology David Hynd and lead AI programmer Simon Parr–an NPC could “define its own specific characteristics for traversing the road nodes.” Roads in games are joined together like dotted lines, joined in nodes that the AI reads to define its path. This new system would give NPCs a sense of freedom on the road. If one road is heavy with traffic, NPCs could choose to take another route. If the roads are slippery because of rain, NPCs could bypass them.
After analyzing weather conditions and making judgments based on those outside circumstances, NPCs could see non-moving obstructions on the road–like a car crash–and drive around them. Additionally, the presence of an NPC driver could change based on the situation, such as reducing speed to drive on suburban streets.
Moreover, with this new patent, NPCs could take into account other outside factors, including the speed limits, vehicle handling, and top speed, cornering and handling, and braking times. All of this is will take us at creating a more life-like driving experience when on the road with NPCs.
A filed patent doesn’t mean it will be a part of a project. It also doesn’t mean that Rockstar intends to use the new tech it’s filing a patent on. It simply says that the studio is looking into ways to enhance how NPCs are designed at this time.
The patent doesn’t mention any Rockstar-associated project, it has earned some speculation by Reddit users that it has a sort of connection to Grand Theft Auto 6. The writers note that the technology is being created for “virtual navigation and management of objects in a multiplayer network gaming community” and targeting PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Neither means much, but if the patent does become Rockstar technology, it could come into the long-rumored Grand Theft Auto 6 or the very popular Grand Theft Auto Online.