Minecraft With Ray Tracing: Your Questions Answered

By NVIDIA on October 31, 2019 | Featured Stories NVIDIA RTX Ray Tracing

Minecraft is adding breathtaking real-time ray-traced effects for the Windows 10 edition of the game.

Since the announcement of this game-changing update, we’ve seen several questions asked repeatedly across the web, so we’ve rounded them up and had our team of experts answer.

Q: What’s the difference between a shader pack for the Java version of Minecraft, and ray tracing for the Windows 10 (Bedrock) edition?

A: Shader packs enhance Minecraft’s graphics with approximated, simulated and pre-baked effects, incorporated via upgraded renderers, new textures, and other enhancements, though they are ultimately limited by the extent of Minecraft’s modability, and their lack of access to Minecraft’s source code and core files.

By working with Mojang and Microsoft, ray tracing has been developed as a core game feature, added directly to the engine, enabling it to use full GPU acceleration (including RT Cores) at faster framerates, and in a way that allows it to improve every aspect of the game’s graphics with pixel perfect real-time ray-tracing.

Q: What are the advantages of ray tracing compared to shader packs?

A: As mentioned, shader packs are enhancements added by third parties, and so have inherent limitations. For instance, many effects operate in screen space, meaning they can only affect and be affected by things currently visible in the scene.

In contrast, ray tracing can read and account for every element of the game’s graphics, whether above, below or behind the player’s camera, enabling realistic reactions and interactions, and physically-accurate lighting, shadowing and effects. And by being integrated directly into the engine, instead of being layered on top as a mod, new technology, effects and features can be incorporated to deliver an even-better experience.

Shader packs and texture packs will remain important, however, as they enable creators to craft and specify very specific ‘looks’ for the game, whereas the default ray tracing integration will deliver Mojang’s vision for Minecraft with bleeding-edge effects and features. We therefore expect modders will work with Bedrock to modify ray-tracing effects and textures to bring their visions to life with jaw-dropping fidelity.

For example, imagine cel shading combined with ray tracing and hi-res physically-based textures. Or a stylised modification that completely alters the mood of the game using ray-traced effects.

Q: Will Minecraft Bedrock with Ray Tracing support mods?

A: Absolutely. Modding is at the heart of Minecraft, and modders will be able to take full advantage of ray tracing’s new possibilities to craft truly stunning add-ons, worlds, and enhancements.

Q: Why will Ray Tracing only be available for the Windows 10 Bedrock edition of Minecraft?

A: Microsoft’s industry standard DXR ray tracing API requires DirectX 12, and Bedrock already supports DirectX 12.

Currently, no implementation of ray tracing exists for Java, so the clear choice was to work with DXR and Bedrock to bring the dream of Minecraft real-time ray tracing to life.

Q: How will we enable ray tracing in Minecraft?

A: There’ll be an in-game option. On your system, you’ll need the latest version of Windows 10, a GPU capable of real-time ray tracing, and our Minecraft Ray Tracing Game Ready Driver, when it’s released.

Q: How will Minecraft perform with ray tracing enabled?

A: Work is still in progress, and performance will vary based on the resolution you play at, the game options you enable, the CPU you have, what GPU you have, whether that GPU has RT Cores, and how many RT Cores it has.

When work is complete, we’ll be sure to post our recommended system specs on GeForce.com.

Q: Is Minecraft with Ray Tracing compatible with community texture packs?

A: Yep, and we’ll be sharing the necessary info for the community to create physically-based texture packs that look even better when ray tracing is enabled.

Do you have further questions? Ask below.