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A new system designed by Rockstar devs could improve NPCs in GTA 6

GTA 5
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

A new patent that could hint at improved AI within GTA 6 has been discovered.

The patent, which attempts to trademark a "system and method for virtual navigation in a gaming environment" surfaced on Reddit after being filed by publisher Take-Two in October 2020.

The patent focuses on the ways in which in-game NPCs move around and react to their environment, but says that "conventional systems only provide limited resources" when it comes to automating these movements - only a certain number of vehicles can appear to be moving on a road at a given time, for example, and automated drivers are only able to react to other nearby objects, rather than the world around them.

Take-Two says that the current tech is "deficient," as implementing realistic movements would either be too hard on game systems, or would limit the scope of the rest of the game. The patent, however, would create "a realistic virtual world that is not limited by hardware or software limitations."

That could mean, for example, that "each NPC can define its own specific characteristics" when driving. An NPC driving a sports car on a sunny day, for example, might accelerate far harder than one driving a van in the rain. Take-Two even claims that different characters would have different driving abilities, which could in turn affect their driving style, and says that NPCs would be able to account for circumstances "such as a high-speed chase," and avoid that area while moving around a virtual city.

While the patent was filed by Take-Two, and could therefore relate to any of the publisher's games, there are several clues that point towards GTA 6. Most notable are the system's inventors; David Hynd and Simon Parr are, respectively, associate director of technology and lead AI programmer at Rockstar Games. Elsewhere, references to things like high-speed chases and detailed virtual cities could certainly point to the GTA series.

While Rockstar is yet to announce anything official regarding a new GTA game, more and more information about the game appears to be surfacing. Last summer, Take-Two renewed the game's web domains, and Rockstar support told players to "stay tuned" regarding updates to the franchise. In November, fans found what appeared to be a 'VI'-shaped tease in a trailer for GTA Online. And in just the past week, one rumour claimed GTA 6 might feature a female protagonist, while a Red Dead Redemption 2 dataminer found parachuting files that could relate to a sixth mainline game. 

GTA 6 could start small, but get bigger over time.

Ali Jones

I'm GamesRadar's deputy news editor, working with Ben T across our gaming news articles. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.