GDC day 0 roundup: Ray tracing coming to more games and engines, Google gives developers country targeting tools on Play Store and Unity invests in AR tech

By Sameer Mitha | Published on Mar 19 2019
GDC day 0 roundup: Ray tracing coming to more games and engines, Google gives developers country targeting tools on Play Store and Unity invests in AR tech
HIGHLIGHTS

GDC 2019 kicks off tonight but day 0 of the event is upon us with news about Ray Tracing and more.

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Highlights:

Unity and Unreal Engine to support Ray Tracing.
GTX 1060 6GB and above to get Ray Tracing support.
Google announced the ability for developers to target emerging markets like India via the Play Store.


The beauty of an event like GDC is that we get to see and hear about technology that will define PC, console and mobile gaming for the coming years. Last year NVIDIA showed off Ray Tracing and there were not even a handful of games running the technology. Battlefield V, Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider were the only games that let you show off the ability of NVIDIA’s RTX cards. That may not be the case going forward. In a press release shared with us, NVIDIA says that Remedy Entertainment’s upcoming game Control will also show off Ray Tracing. For those unaware, Remedy Entertainment are the masterminds behind games like Quantum Break, Alan Wake, Max Payne and more. Considering a game like Alan Wake was all about using a flashlight to save yourself and the game was set in dark environments, one can only imagine how the game would look with Ray Tracing implemented. Nonetheless, it will be exciting to see how the studios upcoming game, Control, exploits the technology. The age-old Quake II had been updated to implement Ray Tracing a few months ago and the game will be at the NVIDIA booth on the GDC show floor. 

Unreal and Unity, both game engines are expected to support Ray Tracing. The Unreal engine has been used to make games like the Batman Arkham trilogy and it will be very interesting to see Ray Tracing implemented in a game that's all about hiding in the shadows. Considering the number of games that use the Unreal Engine and the Unity engine, it will be interesting to see how Ray Tracing is exploited in more upcoming games. 

Matt Wuebbling, Head of GeForce marketing at NVIDIA says, “When programmable shaders were introduced more than 15 years ago, they changed gaming forever. Today, real-time ray tracing is set to do the same thing — it represents the next landmark shift in game development. The breadth of industry adoption is remarkable —standard APIs, integration in major game engines, multiple AAA titles and support enabled in millions of hardware products. It all points to an exciting future for gamers.”

NVIDIA goes on to say that GeForce GTX GPUs powered by Pascal and Turing architectures (GTX 1060 6GB and above) will be able to take advantage of ray tracing-supported games via a driver expected in April. According to NVIDIA, “The new driver will enable tens of millions of GPUs for games that support real-time ray tracing, accelerating the growth of the technology and giving game developers a massive installed base. With this driver, GeForce GTX GPUs will execute ray traced effects on shader cores. Game performance will vary based on the ray-traced effects and on the number of rays cast in the game, along with GPU model and game resolution. Games that support the Microsoft DXR and Vulkan APIs are all supported.”

In addition to implementing Ray Tracing in its engine, Unity is also heavily investing in augmented reality and virtual reality tech. To put things into perspective, Niantic’s Pokemon Go uses the Unity engine. 

In Google's news, the search giant has set up its GDCC 2019 booth and the company is expected to focus heavily on its upcoming game streaming service. Project Stream is no secret as Google underwent trials in October 2018 giving players the opportunity to play Assassins Creed Odyssey on the Chrome browser. It is speculated that Project Stream will let players play on any platform, PCs, Macs, phones, TVs and Chromecast and they will be able to use an Xbox One controller. If recent patent information is anything to go by, it looks like Google may launch its own controller for Project Stream. According to Kotaku, “The rumours we’re hearing suggest that this streaming platform will be Google’s focus tomorrow and that Google wants it to be playable on any hardware: PCs, Macs, phones, TVs, and so on. Buzz we’ve heard is that you’ll be able to play on a computer or Chromecast using a regular Xbox controller and that Google will also unveil its own controller that has some sort of streaming capabilities. (We’re not sure how the controller will work, but it may allow you to use Google’s streaming platform on a television even if you don’t have any other hardware hooked up.)”

At GDC 2019, Google announced the ability for developers to target emerging markets like India via the Play Store. Google has given developers the ability to create up to five groups of countries to target. This localization is not limited to language translation only but also to things like screenshots and other content that needs to be changed to appeal to the target audience. 

Google’s GDC 2019 conference is set for tonight at 10:30 pm Indian Standard Time. You can catch the conference live below.

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Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.

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