"Oxford, UK - Feb 27 2007 NaturalMotion today announced a partnership with Rockstar Games, Inc., the world-renowned publishing label, to
integrate NaturalMotion's revolutionary euphoria engine into upcoming next-generation Rockstar Games titles.
Rockstar and NaturalMotion announced a partnership (PDF), which will allow Rockstar to use NaturalMotion's "euphoria" dynamic motion engine for "upcoming next-generation Rockstar Games titles." We cautiously assume this to include GTA IV, so this is one indicator of what we might see in the next GTA.
The purpose of the engine is to create a dynamic environment, in which a body has a skeletal structure and is able to react to any sort of movement. Instead of animators having to animate all possible motions for the body, the engine creates this animation in real time. NaturalMotion was formed from research at Oxford University, as you can read from an interview about the euphoria engine. One of the most known games to use the euphoria engine is Indiana Jones 2007 on the PS3.
There are two videos in particular which I want to draw your attention to. The first one is an animation demo of the 'Adaptive Behaviors' in the endorphin engine (also produced by NaturalMotion), which gives a good idea of the kind of things the company is doing. The second video is of the actual euphoria engine, showcasing how the engine was used for both the Indiana Jones 2007 and Star Wars games.
Video 1 (3min) - endorphin engine - via GameTrailers.com
Video 2 (7min) - euphoria engine - via GameTrailers.com
As we have no videos from GTA IV yet, videos of other games using the euphoria engine give us a good idea of what the animations in GTA IV might look like, if the partnership is indeed used for GTA IV and not one of Rockstar's other projects (such as LA Noire).
Related Links: GTAForums Discussion