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GTA 6 could feature smarter NPCs thanks to newly uncovered Rockstar patent

A new Take-Two patent has been discovered that appears based on improving the intelligence and navigation capabilities of AI.

The patent, which registers a "system and method for virtual navigation in a gaming environment" has been posted on Reddit in the last few days, though the actual document was originally filed by Rockstar's parent company, Take-Two, back in October 2020.

In the simplest terms possible, the patent is geared at making non-player characters' (that's NPCs, for short) artificial intelligence a little smarter and more organic, in an attempt to move away from current AI solutions that are starting to feel a little out-dated.

The patent notes that "conventional systems only provide limited resources" for developers that want to populate their worlds with active elements. Think about the pedestrians you see walking down the street, the cars you see on the roads – even vehicles you see flying overhead. They run on scripts that allow only a limited number of instances to be active in-game at any one time. NPCs typically all drive at the same speed, follow the same routes, and do the same things.

Rockstar thinks these current systems are "deficient" and wants to instead enable systems that produce "a realistic virtual world that is not limited by hardware or software limitations."

The suggested system in the patent, then, points towards an NPC solution that gives characters different personalities. Maybe an NPC in a certain kind of car will intentionally take side roads to avoid traffic jams. Maybe another, who isn't as confident a driver, will move much slower once the sun goes down in the evenings.

Of course, there's no suggestion that this is definitely linked to GTA 6 at the time of writing; Rockstar has barely even acknowledged the game exists. But references to a "high-speed chase", "ambient traffic" and so on suggests we're looking at something more modern here. Not – for argument's sake – Red Dead Redemption 3, or similar.

The patent is filed under the parent company, but the names attached to the patent as 'inventors' are Rockstar North tech director David Hynd and AI lead Simon Parr. So this is definitely something the studio is looking at when it comes to next-gen open-world titles.

Though Rockstar remains tight-lipped about whatever the hell it's working on next, we have had reports that the next GTA early in development and will be smaller in scale compared to previous Rockstar games.

Elsewhere, Take-Two marketing budget seems to imply that GTA 6 may launch in 2023 and a GTA Online race seemed to point to Vice City for GTA 6 back in 2020.

Just remember, officially, GTA 6 doesn't even exist yet.

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