Real Time Path-Tracing and Denoising in Quake II RTX

Q2VKPT – short for “Quake II Vulkan Path Tracing” – was a research project led by Christoph Schied, an engineer eager to bend the possibility space of computer graphics. Using id’s 22-year-old game as a foundation, Christoph was able to make real-time path tracing a reality on consumer hardware. His project caught the attention of Quake fans, tech journalists, and NVIDIA.

NVIDIA engineers built Christoph’s research project into a consumer release under a new name: Quake II RTX. This free mod would allow everybody with an NVIDIA RTX GPU to see what 1997’s most popular first-person shooter looked like rebuilt with photorealistic lighting.

“It was a very fun project. We had very, very little time to complete a playable build – from the beginning of production in early February 2019 to the GTC keynote unveiling in late March,” explained NVIDIA’s Alexey Panteleev. “Everybody wanted to contribute. There were a lot of volunteers to work on effects, modeling, and textures.”

In the video below, Alexey talks about implementation details, including path tracing, lighting, materials, and denoising filters. In addition, he discusses the challenges of using a physically based renderer with the assets from a game released over two decades ago.

A deep-dive blog detailing the history of Christoph Schied’s work on Q2VKPT can be found here.

If you are working on Ray Traced games, Nsight Graphics has a number of great GPU debugging and profiling features which support both DXR and NVIDIA VKRay. Download the latest version for free here: Nsight Graphics 2019.3.

Working on a Vulkan application? Check out our newest blog, Tips and Tricks: Vulkan Do’s and Don’ts.

Quake II RTX is available for free now.