You Can Now Play The Future Of Video Games

Path Tracing is a pretty complicated process, and I'm having difficulty digesting it myself, but here's the gist: it's a method of rendering computer graphics using an algorithm that calculates all the light travelling to a specific point. If this system is combined with accurate textures it can produce imagery that is indistinguishable from reality. As Keanu Reeves might intone: 'Whoa'. Now, for the first time, there is an actual video game you can play that uses this technique.

Above we've posted a video that shows how it should look and play, but be warned a fairly beefy rig is required to stop things from chugging. There's also a 'grain' effect that is currently an unavoidable by product of the techniques being used to build the image.

Neogaf user -SD- has also uploaded some pretty impressive screens from the game. It looks pretty incredible.

You can download the game here.


    That city is Stonemason's Streets of Asia.

    That's not relevant, but it's a damn useful model.

    Path Tracing.. as in a new form of the old-school Ray Tracing?

    This is something iD Software were talking about using for Doom 4 back in 2008.. not sure what became of the idea to use it.. as the game is still in development and I've not seen much news about it recently.

    "If this system is combined with accurate textures it can produce imagery that is indistinguishable from reality." Well, someone should let Pixar know! It's theoretically true, but the time and resources required to achieve that essentially make it a holy grail.

    As cool as this stuff is, raytracing isn't anything new. It's cool and elegant, but it's also something that many programming students learn (in a basic form) in their first year studying graphics. Optimising it to work in real time is what's really impressive here, but I really don't see it becoming "the future of video games". My intention isn't to pan something that's still in experimental stages, and I see value in the experimentation and research, but it's important to note it's been that way for years and pragmatically speaking isn't likely to catch up with rasterisation techniques for the majority of common uses. (To be fair, that could be largely because rasterisation is already so far ahead that that very few people are researching alternatives.)

      Well, a quick scan of Wikipedia shows that Ray Tracing is effectively a subset of Path Tracing. What you get in addition to the Ray Tracing is shadow, depth of field, motion blur, caustics and ambient occlusion. These are all effects that are normally calculated separately so to have one method that can perform all those effects at once is a pretty huge optimisation to the way that lighting in games works.

        Its interesting when you realise that pretty much every shadow, reflection, refraction, bump map etc used in current games is done by cheating. Using algorithmic shortcuts to give the illusion that those effects are being produced.
        Ray tracing/Path Tracing will produce these same effects, but with 100% accuracy.

      I could well be wrong here, but I think this technique is more like "reverse ray tracing." Within a standard ray-trace, all you're doing is calculating rays off the light source, going through all that jazz, and then rasterising the output.

      I believe that this send out rays from the screen, and back-traces them to work out lighting and such, thus skipping the rasterisation process. By no means am I an expert in this regard, so as stated, I could well be wrong.

        Well, when I wrote my (very simple) raytracer that's exactly how it worked - rays beginning at the camera origin are cast through every pixel, when they hit an object they then result in secondary (and so on) rays to collect further information, which is then combined with the surface properties of the original ray hit which results in a colour value written to the pixel through which the ray was cast. And that method does have shadow 'naturally', though it (or at least the one I made) doesn't have the other things GerminalConsequence mentions because, as he says, with that method those things have to be calculated separately. So this definitely brings new things to the table, I just don't think it's "the future" for game rendering.

        I also wonder which part of the process the grain effect comes from and why it's "currently" unavoidable. The single screenshots are much less effected, so I wonder if it's a case where more samples give a better result, and doing it at real time speeds prohibitively limits the number of samples?

      This is path tracing, not ray tracing. They're similar but path tracing is a lot more complicated.

    "This game is playable on NVidia hardware only"

    Would be helpful if you actually specified that Nvidia hardware is required to run the program like it says on the site, seeing as you provide a direct download link in the article.

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