Quake II gets RTXed at NVIDIA’s GDC 2019 Presentation

Back in the days of dial-up connection, there was one shooter that stood up out above the rest: 1997’s Quake II by id Software. It featured an awesome single-player campaign and build the foundations for great multiplayer modes, as well as looked good with 3DFX GPU acceleration support.

The Quake II engine was made open source in 2001, effectively enabling anyone to have a go at the engine, tweaking stuff here and there, releasing conversion and so on, all within legal bounds.

So for your shooter fans out there, we have the latest fan project Q2VKPT to relive the glory days, now with new tech. And it looks very, very impressive with new raytracing technology.

Why Redo Quake II?

Released in January, Q2VKPT was the brainchild of former NVIDIA intern Christoph Schied, a PhD student at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. The ‘PT’ in the name translates into ‘path tracing’,

Path tracing is a compute-intensive ray tracing technique that unifies all lighting effects (shadows, reflections, et cetera) into a single ‘pure ray tracing algorithm’. With Ray Tracing being all the rage, word of a developer making a beautiful, real-time ray-traced version of Quake II made headlines around the world.

Path-tracing has its challenges. Its algorithm introduces noise that makes the visuals appear grainy and speckled, a problem in 2016’s Q2PT. Christoph identified the problem and built upon ideas he came up during his internship at NVIDIA. A solution he co-invented by combining the result of multiple frames similar to temporal anti-aliasing.

Christoph stated that the game is the basis for future research and platform for future ray tracing innovations. NVIDIA reached to Christoph to ask if their ray tracing experts could chip something in. He said yes, and in this week, expect to see NVIDIA presenting the newly-created Quake II RTX with Christoph at GDC 2019.

Quake II RTX runs on a Vulkan renderer with support for Linux and is purely a ray-traced game. All lighting, reflections, shadows and VFX are ray-traced, with no traditional effects or techniques used.

NVIDIA says that the game has many new features, which includes:

  • Real-time, controllable time of day lighting, with accurate sunlight and indirect illumination
  • Refraction on water and glass
  • Emissive, reflective and transparent surfaces
  • Normal and roughness maps for added surface detail
  • Particle and laser effects for weapons
  • Procedural environment maps featuring mountains, sky and clouds, which are updated when the time of day is changed
  • A flare gun for illuminating dark corners where enemies lurk
  • An improved denoiser
  • SLI support
  • Quake 2 XP high-detail weapons, models and textures

Let’s have a look at the screenshots from the tech demo itself.

As you can see from the screenshots below and above, there’s:

  • Physically-based materials with reflections.
  • Refraction, emissive textures, hard and soft shadows
  • Indirect diffuse lighting.
  • Dynamic effect lighting.
  • Dynamic weapon effects.
  • Real-time controllable time of day.

All running in real-time for the first time on a GeForce RTX graphics card.

Quake II RTX is running with NVIDIA VKRay, also known as VK_NV_ray_tracing. It is a Vulkan extension that allows any developer using Vulkan to add ray tracing effects to their games.


For more info on Quake II RTX, stay tuned for NVIDIA’s GDC 2019 Presentation.

Author: Syazwan Bahri

A budding writer and an avid gamer. I hunt monsters, drive race cars, and slay space gods to keep the Last City safe.

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