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Minecraft With RTX Update: Nvidia Shows off Ray-Traced Worlds

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Minecraft’s low-fidelity world is about to get a lot more real for RTX owners, according to a new blog post from Nvidia detailing the process behind the ray tracing features coming soon to the game. First announced at Gamescom 2019, Minecraft with RTX is an upcoming free update for the Windows 10 version of Minecraft, which is set to bring ray tracing to the world’s best-selling game...provided you have Nvidia RTX hardware. 

Ray tracing is an advanced rendering technique mostly reserved up to this point for CG films, which uses virtual rays of light to simulate realistic lighting, reflections, shadows and the like. In the past, this has cost too much processing power to be effective for real-time renders, but for RTX 2060 GPUs and above, Nvidia is planning to use the tricks outlined here to hit a minimum of 60 frames per second at 1080p resolution with ray tracing. 

The blog post details how ray tracing will work in Minecraft, starting up with a free upload of the full 45 minute presentation Nvidia gave on the topic at this year’s GTC. Here, Nvidia discussed adding  real-time ray tracing to the game, including the code behind it. 

PBR, or physically based material, textures are also coming in Minecraft with RTX, and will enable emissive blocks, roughness mapping, volumetric effects and other tools to help players get the most out of their new ray traced worlds. PBR textures are open for both official and fan use, and Nvidia has written a guide for creating your own PBR textures here (or you can watch their video tutorial below).

Prior to this post, we’ve only seen hints of what Minecraft with RTX will look like, including recent screenshots showing a ray traced Minecraft from the Xbox Series X specs reveal, though that version was  running off a custom AMD RDNA2 graphics card instead of the RTX line. To show off Minecraft With RTX, including its PBR textures, more thoroughly, however, Nvidia also recently collaborated with three Minecraft creators to make new worlds that demonstrate what ray traced Minecraft is capable of.

Of Temples and Totems by Razzleberries is an adventure world where players explore and complete challenges in mysterious temples, which focuses on showing off per-pixel emissivity (a PBR texture feature), real-time shadows, and global illumination. 

GeminiTay’s Crystal Palace RTX is a survival map with a “whimsical fantasy theme” that uses ray-traced shadows and atmospherics to focus on realism in a 1:1 scale castle.

Meanwhile, Imagination Island RTX by BlockWorks is a fully explorable theme park with four distinct lands, each dedicated to showing off a different aspect of ray tracing. Nvidia’s screenshot of this world show’s off the visitor center, which focuses on god rays shining down through windows. 

None of these worlds are playable as of yet, although Nvidia has screenshots of each with and without ray tracing effects on, for comparison.

We don’t have an official release date on when Minecraft with RTX will hit Windows 10, but Nvidia’s blog promises that it’s “coming soon.” However, Minecraft with RTX will require the Windows 10 Bedrock Edition of the game, so in the meantime, Nvidia has worked together with the Minecraft creators mentioned earlier to make an unofficial guide for porting Java Minecraft worlds to Bedrock.

  • King_V
    Ok, yes, sure, it's kind of pretty, kind of neat looking in concept.

    But, as someone who has thus far never played Minecraft, is this something people actually want in Minecraft?
    Reply
  • WildCard999
    King_V said:
    Ok, yes, sure, it's kind of pretty, kind of neat looking in concept.

    But, as someone who has thus far never played Minecraft, is this something people actually want in Minecraft?
    I don't play Minecraft either but I'm sure if it was a game you play a lot then features like this would probably be a nice add-on. If RT was added to COH: Homecoming (like 75% of my gaming) I'd be pretty stoked about having it.

    I can imagine once it's fully developed in the game that we'll see a bit of forum questions like "What do I need to upgrade for RT in Minecraft?".
    Reply
  • King_V
    Maybe... I just kind of figure that a game that's well known for doing a low-res "style" (rather than actually being low resolution) might not have as much of an appeal for ray tracing as say, a typical first person game.
    Reply
  • WildCard999
    While I agree it does seem odd to add this to lower res "style" game I think the reasoning behind this is the "worlds best selling game". I'm sure if it wasn't Nvidia wouldn't waste there time with this and from a marketing perspective it will force those who want to use RT to upgrade.
    Reply
  • salgado18
    There are many retextures and custom shaders and effects already to Minecraft, to the point that it only looks low-res because of the blocks. So there is some appeal there.

    However, I don't see anyone buying an RTX just to play Minecraft with raytracing.
    Reply
  • drivinfast247
    I wonder if people will still be able to play @ 500+fps with RTX On?
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    It sounds like Nvidia is contributing to this "Minecraft with RTX" but Microsoft has already shown off an early version of their own implementation of raytraced Minecraft running on the Xbox Series X on AMD's RDNA2 hardware through DXR. I'm guessing this will be something available for the next Radeon cards as well, and I'm curious if Microsoft will be using "DXR" terminology to refer to it, seeing as they are now the developers of Minecraft.

    King_V said:
    Maybe... I just kind of figure that a game that's well known for doing a low-res "style" (rather than actually being low resolution) might not have as much of an appeal for ray tracing as say, a typical first person game.
    One advantage to doing this for a game with relatively simple graphics is that the current RTX hardware doesn't really offer enough performance to do full pathtracing particularly well in graphically demanding titles. Any big games with RTX have had to pick and choose between a subset of raytraced effects applied over raster graphics. I would imagine that they might be able to simplify a lot of the raytracing calculations as well, due to most of the environment being cubes arranged in a grid. That could open up additional room for optimizations to get that "60 fps" on an RTX 2060.

    As for whether people would want raytracing, it looks good, so why not? People don't play Minecraft because of the simple graphics, that's just something they are willing to put up with. If someone has the hardware to run the game with fancier lighting effects, then they might as well make use of it. It's not like running Minecraft at hundreds of FPS actually provides much of an advantage.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    There's been shader mods out for years that add raytracing to minecraft.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    My main issue with this is that (for survival mode) it can artificially increase the apparent light level which makes it harder to determine (at a glance) if an area is sufficiently well-lit to prevent spawning. Some areas lit up by the lava with RT on make this pretty apparent. So I hope it's adjustable or can be rapidly toggled.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    jkflipflop98 said:
    There's been shader mods out for years that add raytracing to minecraft.
    As far as I know, those are only post-process effects that don't take into account objects offscreen. The end effect may look relatively similar, but isn't going to be as good as proper raytracing.
    Reply