Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Future of Game Design & Development: How Ray Tracing Brings A Radical Shift

If you are familiar with the gaming industry, you may have already heard of Ray Tracing. There have been many discussions about how Ray Tracing represents the future of gaming. Let's understand the rising trend of ray tracing in games.

Game Design, Ray Tracing

The Future of Game Design and Development: How ‘Ray Tracing’ Brings A Radical Shift

If you’re an individual who has been familiar with the gaming industry in the past couple of months, then you might have already heard about Ray Tracing. There have been many discussions about how Ray Tracing will represent the future of gaming and how such resources are needed in the future hardware. 

But what do we understand by the term Ray Tracing, and is there a justification behind its massive hype?

Let’s talk about the indication where Mark Cerny of the Cerny Games organization had announced that Sony’s next console would introduce and support Ray Tracing through its custom AMD NAVI GPU. He also said that the console would leverage Ray Tracing for visual effects and simulate positional audio.


Light & Shadows: What Is Ray Tracing?

In simple words, Ray Tracing is a technique to make the light in video games behave the same way it does in real life. The work is done by simulating natural light rays and then utilizing algorithms to trace the path.

Truth be told, Ray Tracing isn’t new; it’s simply a technique that entertainment industries have been using for years in animations and special effects to light up the scenes and enable the reflection of digital objects.

Do you remember the exploding warships covered in smoke and flames in the Avengers movie? The effects reflected on Iron Man’s helmet, which was done with the help of Ray Tracing.

However, what’s new is that Ray Tracing is now possible to do in real-time. It will enable the gaming industry to achieve it quicker than the Hollywood renders that lean towards expensive hardware to compute Ray Tracing for complex scenes which used to take days to render a single frame.


How Does Ray Tracing Work?

It works by simulating rays of lights and how those rays interact with different surfaces and objects. It basically models the colors of the lighting effects on a ‘per ray basis.’ Developers can use this technique to simulate how the light operates in the real world, making scenes appear realistic, lively, and naturally lit. It also means that the light sources or reflective objects that aren’t in a frame can still be accurately reflected.

For instance, the explosion of a grenade that isn’t in the frame can be accurately rendered and reflected on an object that is in the frame.

Ray Tracing, gaming indstry

Moving Into the Depths with Ray Tracing

Ray Tracing follows a beam of light from the onscreen pixels and back to the 3D frame while tracking down where or whether it interacts with the object or surface before reaching the source of light. If it does end up striking an object, reflecting between multiple surfaces, or refracting through glass or water, then the data is represented in the pixels regarding light and color.

Just imagine thousands of billions of photons entering your eye every second. That’s even more than the calculation that a computer can perform per second. There are many efficiencies, optimizing, and hacking that need to happen to make an object look realistic. That's primarily why Nvidia developers tried to trace only a selected number of important ones rather than mapping out every single light ray. Such gaps were later filled with the help of machine learning algorithms, thus, smoothening it out.


The Rising Trend of Ray Tracing in Games

You may have likely heard about Ray Tracing first when Nvidia started promoting its capabilities in their RTX 20 Graphic Card series. They made a tremendous amount of noise relating to how its core would enable the next generation of GPUs to introduce real-time Ray Tracing in video games. 

Then came the reports about AMD working with Microsoft and Sony to develop the next generation of video game consoles. The word was out that ‘AMD Chips’ will soon be packed with dedicated hardware to support real-time Ray Tracing.

The waves of Ray Tracing weren’t huge back then, initially because the supporting hardware was a little rushed on, but with time, you may have already seen the positive impact that it has caused on gamers at large. It’s also thanks to the demos that Nvidia, CryEngine, and Unity had demonstrated to show how it is implemented in games and its potential.


Final Thoughts

The arrival of open-world games comes from a surge in Indie Support, which is driven in part by Nvidia’s DLSS Plugin for Unreal Engine 4. It also means that you can expect many more games in the future with Ray Tracing and DLSS support introduced in them.

The key takeaway in terms of Ray Tracing is more HDR than 3D. Yes, it is an integral part of the future of games, as it ensures that the next generation will look more closely into reality than the present one. The main question around Ray Tracing might’ve been an ‘If,’ but that’s changed as it’s only a matter of ‘When.’

Wouldn't you want to be a part of this radical shift that Ray Tracing is bringing? I wouldn't say it's simple, yet entirely it's certainly possible. You can generally consider enlisting yourself in a Game Designing School and taking up a Game Development Course, which is profoundly helpful for individuals willing to pursue a future in the gaming industry.