There is a new patent filed by Take-Two Interactive that features a new Rockstar-developed method for managing NPC navigation, with features explicitly relating to vehicle road routes and performance. The patent application, which is called ‘System And Method For Virtual Navigation In A Gaming Environment’, was registered by Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two, in April 2019, and was recently recognized by Reddit users after it was announced in October last year. The system defined within it was developed by Rockstar’s lead AI programmer, Simon Parr, and David Hynd, Rockstar’s associate director of technology.
This new tech is designed to make more of “a realistic virtual world that is not limited by hardware and software limitations,” which is a response to conventional systems that cant produce the kind of NPC behaviors players want within the limits of current processor and memory limits. This is specifically in relation to traffic behavior; the patent details cars, boats, and drivers throughout. The method outlined would result in more genuine and immersive life like traffic.
Of very note is that the system translates “each NPC can define its own specific characteristics for traversing the road nodes.” These details include understanding acceleration, time to break and distances, top speeds, and speed at corners. NPCs and AI systems would be able to use these characteristics to make more life-like drivers on the roads of a game in open world.
The new system is described to work with cloud network communicating with player game consoles. If the system is for GTA 6, even if the game is not multiplayer-only it may well be that the game wants an always-on internet connection to give the processing for NPC behavior.
The patent comes with an evaluation of the current shortfalls with NPC navigation systems, noting that limited resources mean that the simulation is decreased in complexity. Processing power and memory restrictions right now mean some NPCs “fade out of existence as the player approaches the NPC,” the patent explains. It notes that current NPC systems only provide only for a predetermined number of NPC controlled cars, and that “players of a video game would expect to see more than a decided number of NPC controlled cars in a video game for a realistic experience.” Additionally, the patent also explains that current conventional systems rely on behavior that has “no high-level knowledge” of traffic, which can start to vehicles being incapable to plan accordingly for roads that are blocked. The new system is intended to anticipate situations like this.