Long ago, there was a lamp in the sky called the sun and it started emitting light. This light traveled all the way to earth and when it got there it bounced all over the place.
From rocks, to houses, and just about anything you can think of, all the way until one of the rays finds one of your eyes and makes it to your retina and you saw what light had to offer in the form of what we call vision.
No, but seriously, ray tracing basically simulates how light acts in the real world. It gets used in animations and movie productions all the time to produce realistic results that simulate the physics that happen in the real world.
But what about games? What is ray tracing in games?
Why Ray Tracing Is Different in Gaming
Sure you can give the computer all the time in the world to render a scene in animations and movies, but in the world of gaming everything needs to happen instantly, or in other words, real time.
The problem in gaming is that if we want to go all out in ray tracing like in movies, it is an issue because it would take too much time to render each frame and the games FPS would surely suffer and basically be unplayable because the ray tracing needs to happen in real time.
So when it comes to gaming, ray tracing needs to be simplified so that it can integrate within the game smoothly.
How It Affects the Realism
Like I said earlier, ray tracing simulates how light behaves in the real world when it bounces all over the place until it reaches your eyes, or in the computer world… until it reaches the virtual camera viewing the scene.
So in gaming, it is essentially simulating how light realistically acts in our world to make the game look a lot better. The more bounces of light that can be simulated the better and more realistic the results are.
But the amount of bounces the rays can make need to be limited so that the game is optimized between graphics and performance.
As newer and more powerful technology comes out, the better ray tracing can be simulated and the more bounces it can achieve to give the graphics better results in terms of lighting without causing too much damage to the FPS.
Why Lighting Is Probably the Number One Concern
I believe that lighting is one of the most important aspects when it comes to gaming, movies, and animations because it affects nearly everything!
Lighting affects the mood of the scene, the feel of the scene, the visibility, the realism, the reflections, the effects, the colors, etc.
If lighting isn’t done right, it can really destroy a scene and make it look awful even if the models are good. Lighting affects the way you perceive colors too and don’t even get me started on the psychology of colors and how it can affect our feelings.
How Is Real Time Ray Tracing Achieved?
Ray tracing is achieved by graphics cards capable of doing all the calculations needed for ray tracing. In other words, the GPU’s that are strong enough and that have the proper components to calculate it fast enough.
The stronger the GPU is, the more rays of light it can calculate and the better the results are in terms of lighting. Another thing I want to point out is how can we still get realistic results even if the amount of times the rays can bounce are limited?
So it’s still possible to get good results because the developers of such technology are able to restrict the ray bounces to things that are the most relevant in the scene so that the results yielded are excellent in terms of looks.
All in all, ray tracing is just a bunch of calculations when you think about it and as technology continues to advance so does the graphics in gaming.
Many older generation NVIDIA cards from the 10-series have received ray tracing support though DirectX Ray tracing (DXR), like the GTX 1660, GTX 1080 Ti, GTX 1070, etc.
Newer technologies from NVIDIA like the RTX series have more advanced technology that gives them faster speed for doing the calculations needed for ray tracing.
Artificial intelligence is also becoming more prevalent in newer graphics cards like the RTX series and are used for deep learning and better calculations.
Wow with all the jumps in gaming technology happening what do you think gaming will be like in 2030? Be sure to comment and let me know what you think!