Apart from the cool indie games I saw at PAX Australia (“PAX AUS”) this year, the AAA titles on show really left a “meh” taste in my mouth. I’ve been working in the games industry for the last 12 years and I think I’ve become rather jaded after all this time. If you ever talk to me about the latest releases and tell me how pretty they look, I’ll probably reply with a straight faced look and say “It’s 2018. Games are meant to look good. Unless the developers are going for their own special style, games are supposed to look pretty close to real life.”
However, every so often in technology, a new thing comes along that pushes the boundaries of gaming. Like when we went from 8bit graphics to 16bit or when we went from 2D graphics to 3D. I still remember the time when I booted up FIFA 2001 on my PS2 and my Dad exclaiming “you can see their kneecaps!”.
This year proves that the dawn of a new era is once again upon us and NVIDIA is leading the charge. In fact, it was NVIDIA who said it best, “It’s time to move past acceptable graphics.”
While at PAX AUS this year, we attended a hands on session with the NVIDIA team, being given a run through of the latest in graphics technology.
I’ll admit, I’m a not super guru when it comes to PCs. I can put a PC together and do some basic troubleshooting, but when it comes to “overclocking” and “Gbps” I get a little be lost. I’m going to explain the awesomeness that I saw as simply as possibly and in layman terms because to be honest, I don’t understand how most of this stuff works, but I do understand how amazing it looks.
The first thing you need to know is that the new 20 series graphics cards use a new type of microarchitecture called ‘Turing microarchitecture’ and is an upgrade from the previous ‘Pascal microarchitecture’ that the 10 series graphic cards used. This upgraded microarchitecture contains multiple types of specialized processor cores (i.e. computer brains) and the capability to perform real-time ray tracing. The two new cores are the Tensor (AI) core and the RT (Ray Tracing) core. That latter, ray tracing, is the big deal here. It’s considered the holy grail of gaming graphics. Just watch the video below:
“Reflections” – A Star Wars UE4 Real-Time Ray Tracing Cinematic Demo
First things first, that was not a scene filmed by the Star Wars crew. That was a demonstration of real-time ray tracing in Unreal Engine. That is what graphics are capable of looking like in the very near future. Ray tracing is a special rendering technique to create ‘real’ and ‘natural’ looking light.
In the movie world, you’ll find ray tracing used in a lot of special effects. According to the NVIDIA team, it was first heavily featured in Pixar’s Cars. In the current gaming world, the next game to show off this technology is Battlefield V.
With explosions and fire being a big part of any war-based game, ray tracing adds the next step of realism. Being able to see reflections and lighting similar to that of the real world will only increase player immersion. This essentially means that we are another step closer to a Ready Player One world.
To ensure these graphics continue to look amazing, the other new core, the Tensor core, helps to literally fill in the blanks of any partially rendered image. The Tensor core is effectively a mini supercomputer built into your graphics card. The core runs powerful AI algorithms to help create beautiful lifelike images.
With these two powerful new technologies, packaged into a single graphics card, I cannot wait to see what game developers start to produce. Perhaps this tech will “un-jade” me and let my jaw hit the floor again once when new games are released next year…
I must admit that I was definitely taken aback when we were given hands-on time with the upcoming Metro Exodus game to experience the difference between RTX on and RTX off.
If you’re looking to go big, you can now pick up a RTX 2080 Ti from your local technology retailers.