Earlier this year NVIDIA unveiled a cheeky project - an attempt to bring ray-tracing, with all its bells and whistles, to Quake 2. It was a venture called Q2VKPT, courtesy of NVIDIA intern Christoph Schied.
The efforts of that were shown off earlier at the start of the year. But Schied and NVIDIA have continued developing the concept further further. And at GDC this year, the GPU maker showed off how far they'd come with Quake 2 RTX.
The game builds off the progress made by Schied's Q2VKPT, but instead of relying on path tracing to create a single ray tracing algorithm to unify all lighting in a game, Q2RTX uses ray-tracing alongside Vulkan, which is no small feat for a game released in the late '90s.
Unlike QV2KPT, the RTX-powered version of Quake 2 now has procedurally generated environment maps for clouds, skies and mountains; particle and laser effects for guns; a flare gun for highlighting darker elements of the map; support for SLI (in Quake 2!); optional smoke, fire and particle effects; real time-of-day lighting, along with indirect and direct illumination; and higher-res textures, models and weapons implemented from the Quake 2 XP open source project.
As a comparison, here's what Q2VKPT looked like:
The whole game is also using a special Vulkan extension that allows devs to add ray tracing effects to their games. How difficult it is to implement ray tracing post or pre-release is another matter entirely, but the option's there for any devs that want to play around with it.
Here's a before/after comparison with the RTX effects:
More still shots and comparisons are available on the NVIDIA blog post here.