Minecraft RTX: Real-Time Ray Tracing Makeover


Minecraft, the game in which players of all ages and backgrounds come together to build amazing virtual worlds out of blocks, was released by Swedish game developer Mojang in 2011. In May 2019, Minecraft surpassed Tetris to become the world’s best-selling video game. The game is popular among homeschoolers, and it is even used in classrooms worldwide.

At the core of Minecraft’s success is its open world 3D sandbox. The terrain is divided into biomes which include forest, jungle, desert, mesa, mountain, taiga, tundra, plains, swamp, ocean, and various lava/water bodies. Adventurous players can gather resources, build architectural marvels, craft a multitude of objects, plant gardens, explore caves, climb mountains, and more.

In recent years, the possibilities have exploded with players creating new add-ons, as well as mods and shader packs that enhance Minecraft’s appearance on PC. And, according to an August 19th press release from NVIDIA, the game’s image quality will be dramatically increased with stunning new visuals through support for real-time DXR ray tracing for the Microsoft Windows 10 edition.

Minecraft RTX

Real-time ray tracing is used by the biggest game publishers for their most anticipated titles. Now “Minecraft will expose ray tracing to millions of gamers of all ages and backgrounds that may not play more hardcore video games,” said Matt Wuebbling, head of GeForce marketing at NVIDIA. A free game update will provide Minecraft players with vivid visualizations of their self-created worlds, with more realistic shadows, lighting, and vibrant colors.

“Ray tracing sits at the center of what we think is next for Minecraft,” said Saxs Persson, franchise creative director of Minecraft at Microsoft. “GeForce RTX gives the Minecraft world a brand-new feel to it. In normal Minecraft, a block of gold just appears yellow, but with ray tracing turned on, you really get to see the specular highlight, you get to see the reflection, you can even see a mob reflected in it.”

For Minecraft RTX, NVIDIA and Mojang are adding a form of ray tracing known as path tracing, which simulates the way light is transported throughout a scene. It presents a unified model for lighting calculations for many different types of effects that have traditionally been implemented separately using rasterized or hybrid renderers. Among these are:

  • Direct lighting from the sun, sky and various light sources, including emissive surfaces such as glowstone and lava.
  • Realistic hard and soft shadows depending on the size, shape and distance of the light source.
  • Per-pixel emissive lighting.
  • Indirect diffuse illumination (diffuse global illumination).
  • Indirect specular illumination (reflections).
  • Transparent materials with reflection, refraction and scattering (stained glass, water, ice).
  • Atmospheric scattering and density (volumetric fog, light shafts, realistic sky).

The Minecraft RTX will also be moddable, enabling players to generate endless ray traced content for themselves and others. You can see Minecraft rendered in real time with ray tracing in the new gameplay trailer and screenshots released by NVIDIA. NVIDIA GeForce RTX™ GPUs are the only GPUs capable of playing games with real-time ray tracing.

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