Nvidia Launches Game Studio to Bring Ray Tracing to More Retro Titles

Gaming
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Earlier this year, Nvidia launched a very old game into the modern era with an RTX-enhanced version of Quake II. The new version of the very old game was generally well-received. It helps that Quake II was an iconic title in its own right, with a shareware demo that allows anyone with an RTX GPU

SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce to download and experience the first few levels of the game without paying any money. Evidently this project worked well enough that Nvidia has now launched its own game studio, Lightspeed Studios, to focus on updating more retro games with ray tracing features. Nvidia has placed a job ad looking for an experienced game producer looking to lead the effort.

The ad states:

NVIDIA is kicking off an exciting new game remastering program. We’re cherry-picking some of the greatest titles from the past decades and bringing them into the ray tracing age, giving them state-of-the-art visuals while keeping the gameplay that made them great. The NVIDIA Lightspeed Studios team is picking up the challenge starting with a title that you know and love but we can’t talk about here! We’re building a team of talented, dedicated game developers who are ready to get going quickly.

So, what kind of games might be part of such an effort?

This depends, in part, on whether Nvidia wants to stick to classic games that released shareware levels, open-source versions, or demo versions. The existence of an explicitly free version of a game may be important to this type of business model because it explicitly allows people to test the game to see if they want to buy it first. If Nvidia wants to stick close to the Quake II concept, it has some definite options here, including Half-Life: Uplink. The source code for Quake 3 Arena has been put online as well, so that’s always a possibility. Serious Sam: The First Encounter would be a lovely game to see updated in this fashion; it’s been far too long since I fled across the open plazas of ancient Egypt with headless, screaming, bomb-handed monsters chasing me, or fended off bola-hurling bone monsters. Heretic II — an underplayed gem, in my own personal opinion — might also shine. System Shock 2 also had a demo.

Serious-Sam

If Nvidia is looking farther afield than late-90s shareware titles, there’s a wide variety to choose from. Half-Life 2 would be an easy choice and Doom 3’s unique emphasis on heavy shadow might be an interesting showcase for ray tracing capabilities. I’m less-thrilled about this idea because I didn’t find Doom 3 all that fun to play, but the end result might be gorgeous to look at. I’d absolutely love to see a ray traced version of a space combat game like Descent: Freespace 2, but that’s probably reaching way too far.

Modifying a few old games to add ray tracing support isn’t going to drive the feature into modern titles, but it’s a great way for Nvidia to build buzz around the concept. With ray tracing support coming on consoles next year and AMD supposedly adding the feature to its Big Navi GPUs, we’ll probably start seeing more hardware support in titles over time.

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