Valve’s classic portal was recently re-released on Steam with some very snazzy new graphics, including ray tracing and DLSS support. This was great news for portal fans, but it’s also great news for fans of all kinds of old PC games.
Before we go any further, I’ll explain the technology we’re talking about. RTX is the name of a suite of technologies used by graphics card company Nvidia that use “ray tracing and AI technologies” to quite simply make PC games look incredible. Here’s a trailer for Portal with RTXthe re-release of the game made with this technology, showing the improvements made to a game that most of us remember as looking very 2007:
Well, the thing about RTX is that while in this case (and with quake and Minecraft) it had to be built into the game by the developers, Nvidia is also releasing a version of the technology with modders in mind. It’s called RTX Remix:
With RTX Remix, the game runs in the background and we’re replacing the legacy rendering APIs and systems with RTX Remix’s 64-bit Vulkan renderer. This allows ray tracing to be added to classic games and all updates in real time as lights and objects move. Light can be thrown behind the player or from another room and into it Portal with RTX, Light even travels through portals. Glass refracts light, surfaces reflect detail due to their luster, reflections can be thrown into the scene behind the player, objects can reflect themselves, and indirect light from outside the screen illuminates and affects what you see.
Compared to Quake II RTX and Minecraft with RTX, the path-tracing ray tracing introduced by RTX Remix, is even more advanced, reflecting the light four times instead of once, improving the quality, immersion and simulation of real light. In addition, we have introduced several new ray tracing techniques that further improve quality while being more powerful.
Nvidia says RTX Remix is ”a modding platform” that will “allow modders of all skill levels to bring ray tracing and NVIDIA technologies to classic games.” Since it’s only coming out in 2023, I expected we were months away from seeing what benefits it could bring to older games, but no!
Modders like LordVulcan have found that you can add RTX juice to some classic titles, and in most cases this is done simply by moving some files from one folder on your hard drive to another and enabling some developer features in the console. That’s it. And it works on games like SWAT 4 and the original Max Payne.
Even if the results are not perfect, at least compared to the professional jobs that have been done on games like over months Minecraft, they still look amazing! Here is Max Paynefor example, Courtesy of Alex Coulter:
This lighting. Those shadows. That’s magic.
Here are some shots of SWAT 4 recorded by Eiermann Fernsehenwhich was released in 2005 and definitely didn’t look like this back then:
And here is Half-Life 1, along with a little explanation of how it was made:
None of these examples are perfect, but it’s amazing that they work so well considering how quick their implementation was. This will be so good when the actual RTX remix releases in 2023, but until then it will be cool to see what other classic titles this slapdash workaround is compatible with!