Grand Theft Auto 5’s world is expansive, detailed, and filled with chatty NPCs. But frankly, they aren’t chatty enough. It’s simply not sufficient for the denizens of Los Santos to loose trite one-liners at me as I dash past or careen into them in a 4×4, I want to have a conversation with them. I want to know what makes them tick. I want to get hands-on with their soul.
Anyway, there’s a new mod called Sentient Streets (via VGC) that doesn’t really do any of that, but it will let you conduct rambling conversations with cops, cultists, and criminals with the assistance of “30+ AI models”. It uses the Inworld AI Character Engine—the same tech that powers that not terribly fitting Stardew Valley AI mod we covered last month—and voices from ElevenLabs to build a mod that attempts an Evel Knievel-style motocross jump across the uncanny valley.
With the mod installed, users are able to walk up to the mod’s characters and engage them in polite discourse using their actual, human voices, allowing for “open-ended” and “voice-to-voice conversations with the residents of Los Santos”. It’s actually a narrative mod: Loading it drops you into the shoes of a cop as he uses “persuasive tactics to defuse tense situations, and [employs] innovative strategies to extract critical information from criminals”. Chatting with them, in other words.
You can see how that works in the video above. Marvel as the protagonist’s prospective partners regale him with the tales behind their slightly disconcerting nicknames. Recoil as he persuades a ditzy rich kid to pay him off with a thousand bucks. Be astounded as an unkempt man goes off on a lengthy rant about the perfidious “NihilAIsts” and their plot to do something vague and untoward.
It’s impressive, there’s no doubt about that. As ambivalent as I am about AI—its use of human artists’ labour to generate the libraries it pulls from, the potential that it could put humans out of work, Glorbo—it is pretty wild to watch the mod’s creator (a fellow by the name of Bloc) walk up to a cop on the street and start interrogating him about his history and disconcerting nickname and actually get coherent answers. After a slight delay, anyway. The cops are a little slow. Regardless, it’s a tension in my brain that I’m not wholly able to resolve.
But if I can’t understand my own feelings, I can understand wanting to tool around in Sentinet Streets yourself. You can find the installation instructions for Sentient Streets here, but beware that it’s a bit of a lengthy process and does require that you set up an account with Inworld, which will only give you an hour of “interaction time” each day.