Modding has been core to the PC gaming experience pretty much since the beginning, but traditionally it’s been something that’s been largely left to the fans. Publishers and hardware manufacturers have typically stayed out of it. Well, that’s about to change, as NVIDIA's most recent GeForce Beyond presentation saw them announce RTX Remix, a powerful new AI-assisted modding platform.
Simply export your game to RTX Remix, and its tools automatically up-res textures, enhance assets, and, of course, add visual flair like ray tracing. Ideally, you’ll be able to spruce up older games with relatively limited modding or programming know-how (NVIDIA showed the venerable The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind getting a major facelift).
Here’s what NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang had to say about RTX Remix.
“We created an Omniverse application called RTX Remix for game modding. Start the game, capture the game into USD, which is loaded into Omniverse. Here, we're using Elder Scrolls Morrowind from Bethesda, one of the top modded games of all time.
Once in RTX Remix, the AI-assisted toolset has deep learning models to up-res textures and assets, and an AI model to convert materials to have physically accurate properties. The rich Omniverse creative tools can then be used to enhance the game assets. When done, export the RTX mod pack and play the game with the RTX renderer.”
"NVIDIA RTX Remix will launch soon, making it easy to remaster supported DirectX 8 and DirectX 9 games with fixed function graphics pipelines. In a compatible game, press the hotkey and the surrounding scene is captured, as you can see here in a test scene from Bethesda Softworks’ The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, one of Nexus Mods’ most-modded games. Suddenly, one of the hardest challenges in modding is easily solved.
RTX Remix is able to capture the textures, geometry, lighting, and cameras thanks to an innovative, custom D3D9 Runtime called the RTX Remix Runtime. Classic games like Morrowind use the D3D9 runtime to send draw calls (rendering instructions) to the GPU. RTX Remix Runtime intercepts those draw calls, interprets them into distinct assets, and reassembles those assets into an identical scene. From there, RTX Remix converts the assets and scene into the widely adopted Universal Scene Description (USD) open 3D framework.
Since RTX Remix is built on NVIDIA Omniverse, these USD game assets can easily be imported into the RTX Remix application, or any other Omniverse app or connector, including game industry-standard apps such as Adobe Substance 3D Painter, Autodesk Maya, 3ds Max, Blender, SideFX Houdini, and Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. Mod teams can collaboratively improve and replace assets, and visualize each change, as the asset syncs from the Omniverse connector to Remix’s viewport.
When remastering assets for use with ray tracing, each texture and surface needs physically-based rendering (PBR) materials, to allow them to interact naturally with ray-traced light. Beyond textures, your surfaces need new details, too. To enhance a classic game, a normal map is required, or an entirely new surface with genuine geometric detail that’s been hand-crafted by the modder, both of which take a fair bit of time to make. RTX Remix simplifies and accelerates the art remastering process using AI. AI Super Resolution increases the resolution of the extracted textures by up to 4X, turning 1080p-class textures into higher-quality 4K assets. And AI Physically Based Materials scans the game’s environment to add PBR properties to all extracted assets."
It will be interesting to see how these tools perform when they're in the hands of actual modders, but for now, it all seems a bit like magic, doesn't it? You can check out some comparison shots of Morrowind before-and-after the RTX Remix magic, below.
At or around launch, you’ll be able to experience RTX Remix can do with Portal RTX, a free mod for Valve’s classic puzzle game created with NVIDIA’s new tools. You can check out a trailer for Portal RTX, below.