Back in October 2018, we informed you about the Path Tracing mod for Quake 2 that could run on the new high-end gaming graphics card from NVIDIA, the GeForce RTX2080Ti. Unfortunately, though, that Path Tracing renderer could not take advantage of the RT cores, resulting in really low performance. Thankfully though, a group of people has released a new special version that takes advantage of the RTX GPUs.
Q2VKPT is described as the first playable game that is entirely raytraced and efficiently simulates fully dynamic lighting in real-time. While some games have started to explore improvements in shadow and reflection rendering, Q2VKPT is the first project to implement an efficient unified solution for all types of light transport: direct, scattered, and reflected light.
According to its team, this project is meant to serve as a proof-of-concept for computer graphics research and the game industry alike, and to give enthusiasts a glimpse into the potential future of game graphics. Besides the use of hardware-accelerated raytracing, Q2VKPT mainly gains its efficiency from an adaptive image filtering technique that intelligently tracks changes in the scene illumination to re-use as much information as possible from previous computations.
It is said that thanks to the Vulkan API and the RT cores of the NVIDIA RTX series, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX2080Ti can come close to a 60fps experience in 2560×1440. Now keep in mind that this RTX version does not take advantage of NVIDIA’s DLSS (in order to boost performance) and that it uses real-time ray tracing for numerous effects. In other words, we’re looking at fully dynamic global illumination using path tracing, with raytraced shadows, glossy reflections and one bounce of indirect lighting.
As we’ve already stated, this Quake 2 project uses mainly path tracing. In case you weren’t aware of, path tracing is an elegant algorithm that can simulate many of the complex ways that light travels and scatters in virtual scenes.
“It’s physically-based simulation of light allows highly realistic rendering. Path tracing uses Raytracing in order to determine the visibility in-between scattering events. However, Raytracing is merely a primitive operation that can be used for many things. Therefore, Raytracing alone does not automatically produce realistic images. Light transport algorithms like Path tracing can be used for that. However, while elegant and very powerful, naive path tracing is very costly and takes a long time to produce stable images. This project uses a smart adaptive filter that re-uses as much information as possible across many frames and pixels in order to produce robust and stable images.”
Those interested can download this real-time ray tracing mod for Quake 2 from here. The team has also included an interactive screenshot comparison between this RTX and the original path tracing version. The only downside here is that the original path tracing version looks somewhat more realistic and crisp. Due to the excessive noising, the textures appeared to be more realistic, detailed and crisp than they actually look. The de-noising of the RTX version takes away that effect and while we have a more consistent image, it looks blurrier (or should I say similar to the vanilla Quake 2 game).
Have fun everyone!