There are now two different Minecraft ray tracing demos, but no word on when it will be playable
Minecraft is charming in its unique voxel kind, however wow does it actually remodel with ray traced lighting solid throughout its blocks. “I wish to reside within it,” wrote Shaun when he performed Minecraft with ray tracing final August. The model he performed was a demo created by Nvidia to showcase its RTX graphics playing cards and their ray tracing assist. It additionally got here with a customized texture pack to assist the ray tracing shine. We have not heard a lot about it since. This week, Microsoft confirmed off Minecraft with ray tracing operating on the upcoming Xbox Sequence X—but it surely’s a brand new implementation, made to run with out Nvidia’s RTX tech.
That is the place issues begin to get a bit messy. Each Microsoft’s new implementation and the Nvidia RTX demo are based mostly on DXR, or DirectX Ray Tracing, an extension of DX12. That is sensible for this new model—after all Microsoft could be utilizing DirectX for its personal video games and its new console. However as a result of the Xbox Sequence X runs on a brand new AMD chip, it might’t precisely use Nvidia’s RTX-specific implementation.
When you look again at what Mojang needed to say final yr, it turns into a bit clearer. The plan has at all times been to construct ray tracing into the brand new “Bedrock” (the fashionable, multiplatform, not-Java model of Minecraft) engine, which is known as Render Dragon. “We couldn’t be extra excited to benefit from the brand new ray tracing expertise from Nvidia,” Mojang wrote. “It’ll be playable on Home windows 10 with units which can be able to DirectX R, reminiscent of with an Nvidia GeForce RTX GPU (and we plan to increase it to future platforms that assist DirectX R raytracing).”
So ray tracing is a core a part of the brand new Minecraft engine, proper? Cool. Besides… Microsoft remains to be being cagey about what this new ray traced demo for the Xbox Sequence X truly means. Regardless of that quote about future platforms from final yr, the Xbox Sequence X nonetheless would not get official acknowledgement. Here is what Microsoft told Windows Central once they requested in regards to the new demo: “Austin Evans noticed a technical demonstration designed to indicate off the capabilities of hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing on Xbox Sequence X. It isn’t a product announcement.”
If Mojang already stated ray tracing assist was being constructed into its new Render Dragon engine, hasn’t this product truly been introduced already? Why is that this nonetheless being referred to as a tech demo? Is the RTX model nonetheless popping out, and in that case, will it’s similar or contain some customized work from Nvidia? These questions do not bode properly for Shaun with the ability to depart his earthly physique and turn into a cube-headed, ray traced Minecraft man within the close to future.
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On a extra optimistic notice, to my eye, at the very least, Microsoft’s new tech demo seems even higher than the RTX video of Minecraft from final yr. The photographs of darkish caves with beams of sunshine coming in from cracks within the ceiling—my god, that makes me wish to go exploring. You may see a number of minutes of the demo within the video above from Digital Foundry, which additionally features a crash course within the variations between easy ray tracing and the way more demanding path tracing, which is what is going on on right here. It is doubtless too demanding for use in additional graphically complicated video games, but it surely’s excellent for Minecraft and Quake 2.
Hopefully like Quake 2, ray traced Minecraft will, at some point, truly be out there.