Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2019 - 06:09 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: vulkan, rtx, raytracing, Quake II, quake, Q2VKPT, Q2PRO, path tracing, open source, nvidia, john carmack, github, fps
Wait - the first fully raytraced game was released in 1997? Not exactly, but Q2VKPT is. That name is not a typo (it stands for Quake 2 Vulkan Path Tracing) it's actually a game - or, more correctly, a proof-of-concept. But not just any game; we're talking about Quake 2. Technically this is a combination of Q2PRO, "an enhanced Quake 2 client and server for Windows and Linux", and VKPT, or Vulkan Path Tracing.
The end result is a fully raytraced experience that, if nothing else, gives the computer hardware media more to run on NVIDIA's GeForce RTX graphics cards right now than the endless BFV demos. Who would have guessed we'd be benchmarking Quake 2 again in 2019?
"Q2VKPT is the first playable game that is entirely raytraced and efficiently simulates fully dynamic lighting in real-time, with the same modern techniques as used in the movie industry (see Disney's practical guide to path tracing). The recent release of GPUs with raytracing capabilities has opened up entirely new possibilities for the future of game graphics, yet making good use of raytracing is non-trivial. 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 (see media). This kind of unification has led to a dramatic increase in both flexibility and productivity in the movie industry. The chance to have the same development in games promises a similar increase in visual fidelity and realism for game graphics in the coming years.
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."
The project can be downloaded from Github, and the developers neatly listed the needed files for download (the .pak files from either the Quake 2 demo or the full version can be used):
- Github Repository
- Windows Binary on Github
- Quake II Starter ("Quake II Starter is a free, standalone Quake II installer for Windows that uses the freely available 3.14 demo, 3.20 point release and the multiplayer-focused Q2PRO client to create a functional setup that's capable of playing online.")
There were also a full Q&A from the developers, and some obvious questions were answered including the observation that Quake 2 is "ancient" at this point, and shouldn't it "run at 6000 FPS by now":
While it is true that Quake II is a relatively old game with rather low geometric complexity, the limiting factor of path tracing is not primarily raytracing or geometric complexity. In fact, the current prototype could trace many more rays without a notable change in frame rate. The computational cost of the techniques used in the Q2VKPT prototype mainly depend on the number of (indirect) light scattering computations and the number of light sources. Quake II was already designed with many light sources when it was first released, in that sense it is still quite a modern game. Also, the number of light scattering events does not depend on scene complexity. It is therefore thinkable that the techniques we use could well scale up to more recent games."
And on the subject of path tracing vs. ray tracing:
"Path tracing is an elegant algorithm that can simulate many of the complex ways that light travels and scatters in virtual scenes. Its 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."
This project is the result of work by one Christoph Schied, and was "a spare-time project to validate the results of computer graphics research in an actual game". Whatever your opinion of Q2VKPT, as we look back at Quake 2 and its impressive original lighting effects it's pretty clear that John Carmack was far ahead of his time (and it could be said that it's taken this long for hardware to catch up).
Introduction, expert discussion panels, hardware workshop
The final day of Quakecon 2012 featured more expert discussion panels from leaders in the gaming industry about the latest games people at Quakecon were excited about like Dishonored, Halo 4, and Borderlands 2 to name a few. We also hosted our annual hardware workshop and gave away more than $30,000 worth of hardware and prizes to over 2,000 workshop attendees!
The BYOC area and exhibit hall also reached capacity for Quakecon attendees to see the semi-finals for the annual Bawls chugging competition and play in Tribes: Ascend mini tournaments at the Alienware exhibit. We also got a demonstration of John Carmack's original prototype virtual reality headset that he initially debuted at E3 this year. Carmack is working with Oculus Rift to design VR headsets for gaming that include stereoscopic 3D and a wide 110-degree field of view. The day concluded with a huge party to watch the annual case mod contest finals, Bawls chugging finals, and Quake Live finals.
Last week we were in Dallas, Texas covering Quakecon 2011 as well as hosting our very own PC Perspective Hardware Workshop. While we had over 1100 attendees at the event and had a blast judging the case mod contest, one of the highlights of the event is always getting to sit down with John Carmack and pick his brain about topics of interest. We got about 30 minutes of John's time over the weekend and pestered him with questions about the GPU hardware race, how Intel's intergrated graphics (and AMD Fusion) fit in the future of PCs, the continuing debate about ray tracing, rasterization, voxels and infinite detail engines, key technologies for PC gamers like multi-display engines and a lot more!
One of our most read articles of all time was our previous interview with Carmack that focused a lot more on the ray tracing and rasterization debate. If you never read that, much of it is still very relevant today and is worth reading over.
This year though John has come full circle on several things including ray tracing, GPGPU workloads and even the advantages that console hardware has over PC gaming hardware.
Introduction, PCPer Hardware Workshop
The third and final day drew thousands of gamers and curious people to Quakecon's exhibition hall and Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) area. Some gamers were pretty weary from all-night gaming sessions, while others continued to press on by playing Tribes: Ascend, Rage, Team Fortress 2, and Left 4 Dead 2. Others took time out from gaming to make the rounds to various panel discussions with community managers from Respawn, id Software, Bethesda Softworks, and Insomniac and learn more about first-person gaming from id Software's Tim Willits and other developers in the gaming industry.
Each day started with Ventrilo's Rage Quick Drive drawing that gave gamers an opportunity to win $1,000 and tickets for a chance to win a brand-new 2011 Molten Orange Ford F-150 Raptor SVT, complete with the Hennessey VelociRaptor 600 SC upgrade package. Today's quick drive drawing started with Marty Stratton from id Software crowd surfing at the main stage in the exhibition hall.
Introduction, 20 years of id Software, Skyrim, Prey 2
To commemorate 20 years in the gaming industry, several senior members of id Software came together for a “20 Years of id Software” panel to relive some of the history and mystery surrounding the company. John Carmack, Todd Hollenshead, Kevin Cloud and Tim Willits gave Quakecon gamers a fresh and candid look at id Software's humble beginnings and an in-depth view of their philsophies on PC, console, and mobile gaming.
During the question and answer session, the panel was asked about their advice and opinions on becoming an artist and programmer and their vision of the future of PC and console gaming. At the end of the panel discussion, the id Software team thanked the Quake community for their continued support as well as the Quakecon volunteers for their commitment to making the annual event a success every year.
One pleasant surprise was having G4TV’s Morgan Webb as the panel moderator for the event. Webb was her usual smart and sassy self and helped make the event fun and lively for everyone. Overall, the event was very engaging and we got to see the id Software team in a different light that most gamers don't get to see from today's game developers.