Don’t tell my boss. Suddenly, my job is a little easier.
See, I’m the NVIDIA PR guy for gaming technologies. So I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year convincing some very skeptical journalists and influencers that ray tracing is the next big thing in gaming.
That’s changing, and the reason why is humbling: people believe what they see — and now there’s simply a lot more to see.
This week, Control was released, a game that happens to be an RTX bundle title, shipping to rave reviews. It’s a landmark title for ray tracing. Hot Hardware calls it a “tour de force.” Ars Technica raves that it’s a “ray tracing masterpiece.” And Polygon says it’s “a technical marvel, and an artistic achievement.”
High praise for a year-old technology.
Last week at Gamescom 2019, Microsoft announced ray tracing will soon be used in Minecraft, the best-selling game of all time. And we unveiled and demoed nine ray-tracing integrations, in Minecraft, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and other big-name blockbusters.
Along with inclusion in some of the industry’s biggest games comes support from some of the industry’s most influential names.
Pawel Rohleder, chief technical officer at Techland, the game developer behind Dying Light, recently called ray tracing a “huge step” forward. Dave Cage, CEO at French game developer Quantic Dream, calls it a “big deal,” and said he plans to put the focus in future games on “lighting, lighting, lighting.” Marty Stratton, executive producer at id Software, the pioneering developer behind the Doom and Quake franchises, said it’s “a technical step we’re looking at how we can lead in.”
The tale of how we got to this point is a story of overnight success that was years in the making. NVIDIA has long worked with developers and standards bodies to put in place tools that will be used to put this technology in place for years to come.
Now we’re starting to see the results.
Love at First Sight
Like many, I had to see real-time ray tracing in action to become a believer.
The first time I saw RTX was at last year’s GDC in the form of a Star Wars themed demo called Reflections. I watched it assuming it was a video clip.
The second time through, my colleague turned on the wire frame to show me it was being rendered in real time. “Our next GPU will be able to run this in real time on a single GPU,” he stated matter of factly.
To be sure, when you’re undertaking a major technology shift, the turn is never instantaneous. I had visions of cruising through the next year with a ton of great demos that showed off the “holy grail” of graphics technology — real-time ray tracing.
Now I realize it would take more than demos to tell this story, and get the technology from demos and into games.
That said, the change has been quick. Over the past year, we’ve seen industry-standard APIs support it, game engines adopt it en masse and major game studios bet their top gaming franchises on it.
A year later, the ecosystem for ray tracing is in place.
Great Games Show the Ray
Now, the games are rolling in. Along with this week’s launch of Control, we saw Metro Exodus: The Two Colonels DLC ship with ray tracing support. And there was a flurry of action at last week’s Gamescom:
- Minecraft, one of the most popular games ever made, will add DXR ray tracing on PC, enhancing the entire game with breathtaking visuals.
- Watch Dogs: Legion, winner of this year’s Game Critics Best Action-Adventure award, will use RTX to get real-time ray-traced reflections.
- Dying Light 2, the followup to the hit zombie-themed survival horror title, will get real-time ray tracing.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the latest edition of one of the most acclaimed game franchises of all time, will get real-time ray-traced shadows, upping the game’s realism and immersion.
- The list continues with the developers behind Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, SYNCED: Off-Planet and Wolfenstein: Youngblood all adding support for RTX, all showing off stunning ray-traced gameplay.
There are still a few doubters out there. But a year ago, skeptics — understandably — said they needed to see more. Now there’s much more to see, and it’s my job to help make sure they get a chance to see it. Back to work.