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New Patent Could Point To a Better Smarter World For GTA 6

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 GTA 6

Huge outdoor urban environments, packed with people and vehicles, are hard to simulate correctly in videogames—Exhibit A, CD Projekt. A tremendous number of moving parts is needed to make the scenes convincing, but the more that amount goes up, the more likely it is that something, around, is going to go very much haywire.

There is a new patent filing from Take-Two Interactive, prosaically entitled “System And Method For Virtual Navigation In A Gaming Environment,” which offers a look at what may be the first important steps to changing all that.

It starts with an analysis of how navigation in games currently works, through pathfinding along connected nodes based on pre-programmed directions, and then gets into the boundaries of these systems and the various ways that they can go wrong: Cars are programmed with “wandering behavior,” for example, may not take into account external circumstances like traffic, weather, or the need to really find a spot to park into.

The filing detailed:

“In view of the foregoing, a need exists for an improved system for virtual navigation in an effort to overcome the aforementioned obstacles and deficiencies of conventional video game systems.”

The new method described in the patent filing is long and slow and decorated with snooze-inducing flowcharts, but the basic gist of it is that the huge life simulations can be improved by offloading the majority of the work of virtual navigation to the cloud— patent filing puts it:

“the system comprising a server for managing the virtual navigation of the one or more non-player characters; and one or more player consoles in operable communication with the server over a network, each player console comprising a gaming platform for executing the gaming environment, wherein said server generates a coarse graph of the low-level nodes and associated links, and pathfinds on at least one of the low-level nodes and the coarse graph from a start node to a target node, wherein pathfinding on the coarse graph reduces the number of loads of low-level nodes needed by the one or more player consoles to generate a path from the start node to the target node.”

It’s not very exciting stuff, as I said, but let’s think if it works as expected the technical specifics are less famous than the practical applications. Some video games do a greater job than others of fabricating large outdoor environments, but even the greatest of them fall visibly at times—maybe not as bad as the places of Night City, but enough to warn the player that they are really inside a videogame. If Take-Two has really come up with an enhanced way to manage those systems, it could have a tremendous impact on the largest urban simulator of them all: Grand Theft Auto 6.

The new patent filing makes no mention of GTA, and in fact, Grand Theft Auto 6 hasn’t even been announced yet. But Grand Theft Auto 5 is now 7 years old and other than Rockstar’s commitment to bringing it to the new generation of consoles, there’s no way that a new one isn’t coming out any time soon. This patent filing could be taken as a hint that it’s still many years away from being released, but whenever it comes it could bring about a wave change in what we can hope from large outdoor open world envoirments.

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