Despite the fact that GTA 6 hasn't been officially announced yet, the news and leaks keep on flooding in, the wheels really are spinning now.
And thanks to a new patent, we have got an even bigger look at what Rockstar Games are hoping to achieve with the next entry in the Grand Theft Auto series.
The Smartest Drivers Ever
Rockstars Games has applied to patent a new technology called "System and Method for Virtual Navigation in a Gaming Environment".
The patent describes a new system that will allow for NPCs to act intelligently and react to situations and hazards in real-time.
Usually, an NPC will follow a set path, only performing set motions if the path is blocked, such as slowing down when the player is stood in the middle of the road.
NPCs also usually follow a strict protocol to avoid a situation, such as immediately running at the sound of gunshots.
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We have seen this in games like Cyberpunk 2077, where an NPC has no level of intelligence and instead just follows a path from A to B before fading out.
GTA V's NPCs had a slight level of intelligence, but still very basic.
A driver would stop and beep their horn if you obstructed the road, with some just moving around to continue on their path.
Sometimes drivers wouldn't stop at all and collide with the player.
This is explained in the patent, with it stating that,
"As an additional drawback, conventional systems relied almost entirely on local traffic avoidance for NPCs to avoid collisions. This involves, each frame, checking the local environment for any potential obstructions (vehicles, pedestrians, objects), building up a view of that obstruction from the local vehicle (creating a `front facing` polygon which is a list of points/lines that the vehicle will need to avoid in order to not hit the obstruction), generating information about the road the vehicle is on so they can avoid going off-road into buildings and finally generating and detecting the best steering angle to avoid all the obstructions. This is done every frame for each entity and no knowledge of the previous frame is used. This can result in very late detection of potential issues and no high level knowledge of `this road is blocked;` instead, the system only indicates that there's something in my way to be avoided. Vehicles cannot plan accordingly, for example, if there is any type of road blockage."
But this new system will allow the NPCs to react to situations in real-time and plan new routes if their current one is blocked.
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The NPC could also decide to avoid the highway altogether if the player is going on a 5-star rampage with a rocket launcher.
What This Means
All of this is achieved by using nodes to map out the entire road system in the game, allowing for each NPC to use this data to determine the speed limit, lane width, junctions, and to be able to react to obstructions in the road and hazardous situations.
Rather than quoting parts of very complex technical terms and phrases, I will just say, NPCs will be super smart.
If you want to read the full patent and all of the technicalities of the new system you can do so by clicking here.
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GTA V Next Gen
The PlayStation 2 saw 3 GTA games released on it, GTA V will have been released on 3 PlayStations by the end of 2021.
GTA V is scheduled to be ported to both PS5 and Xbox Series X|S in 2021, offering upgraded visuals, frame rate, and resolution over the last gen counterparts.
Could this be Rockstar's way of getting used to developing for next generation hardware before officially announcing GTA 6 on the systems?
After all, they wouldn't want a Cyberpunk 2077 on their hands and face backlash if the game released broken.