For the past few years graphics card makers, chiefly NVIDIA, have been releasing top of the line graphics cards boasting that they support ray tracing. Many people have heard this term thrown around, but not everyone knows what it actually means. Essentially, ray tracing is an advanced form of rendering light that follows the rays of light emitted from a source as they pass through, bounce off of, and refract off of other virtual objects. This technology is used in high end visual effects design to make CGI elements feel real in films and shows.
Many games emulate these effects in order to to make a game look and feel more realistic, but for the most part these games cheat the effect – in part because most games exist in a set environment with set lighting, and in part because true ray tracing is more graphically intensive than a console, or most PCs, can handle.
On April 15th however, NVIDIA and Minecraft announced that they have teamed up to bring full ray tracing to the Windows 10 version of Minecraft Bedrock. It could seem strange to bring realism to a game comprised mostly of one meter cubes, but the modular nature of Minecraft serves as the perfect case study for how NVIDIA’s RTX ray tracing actually works. Not only is the world of Minecraft randomly procedurally generated, but the main focus of the game is the player reshaping the world as they see fit; some players are even recreating the real world on a 1:1 scale within the game. This means that there is little to no way to cheat lighting, which is why Minecraft‘s default lighting is fairly flat, and why it will be such a good test for RTX.
Nvidia sponsored several of the most popular Minecraft Youtubers such as CaptainSparklez, Grian, and Mumbo Jumbo over the weekend to showcase the beta, and it truly does transform the game. Seeing as it is a beta, there were a…