Generally speaking, most non player characters, or NPCs in games are the endlessly entertaining soulless little folk that populate your city. You know the ones, the people you knock down, crash into, or generally treat as moving scenery rather than actual characters.
With every leap in technology these thankless digital individuals get a little better, but they still always feel like seeing the code in the matrix. Repeated models, textures, low poly faces, the same walk animations and other technical limitations means these characters basically never feel alive, and when you start to notice it, neither do their worlds.
While I highly doubt this is going to be completely solved by the time the not even announced sixth Grand Theft Auto game is released, a patent filed by parent company Take-Two hints that at least, they're really working on it.
The patent which was filed back in October 2020 was recently posted to Reddit (spotted via VG247) and talks mostly about making NPCs feel a little more alive by using new AI systems that delegate personalities to these NPCs.
From the patent, it seems this would make a cautious or nervous NPC drive differently than someone more boisterous. They may take different routes, have different aggression levels, maybe different animations all linked to their personality - which may even change depending on things like weather conditions or time of day.
The patent also specifically references modern day sounding traffic ideas, which is why most fans are thinking this points to a new GTA, rather than more Red Dead related content.
It sounds a little like the way Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs: Legion assigns traits mixing among characters which may give them different workplaces and schedules. (Though it seems people who’ve played Watch Dogs: Legion found this varying levels of successful.)
While Take-Two’s patent does sound like an interesting way to handle the weird ghost world of NPCs, it’s worth noting that it is just a patent, at least for now.
I just hope these new innovations in all things AI still lead to hilariously wonderful mistakes.