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Thread: Gaming and AI

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland

    Gaming and AI

    Isn't it ironic that when it comes to gaming we used to talk about enemy AI, yet there's relatively little that's happened in that particular domain - and the real AI revolution is happening entirely elsewhere?

    Machine learning has been in use especially for upscaling and achieving impressive performance gains, so that an image might be rendered in something like 720p and then the resolution is upped to 1440p using AI. With the announcement of Geforce's 40 series GPUs it looks like the latest generation of Nvidia's AI upscaling tech will not only use AI to generate more pixels but also more frames: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce...s-innovations/



    More than that, though, Nvidia's announced RTX Remix, which supposedly will use machine learning to create mods with little user input that up resolutions, add material-based raytracing and all sorts of bells and whistles. The video they've shown makes this look pretty much like magic:



    Now, I doubt that the results of RTX Remix will actually look that good out of the box - but seeing how AI image generation has improved in recent years, I suspect that we're only at the beginning of what AI will do for games.

    Has anyone here followed the announcements? What do you think? What are your thoughts on the tech and its uses? Where do you think it might take us in the coming years?

  2. #2
    I love how the Flight Simulator "before" videos are still such a high frame-rate that I can't tell a shred of difference between that and the "after" video.

    Did they not want to admit that the sim might ever perform worse than that? Or is this just a mostly-pointless application of the technology?

    As for Morrowind, apparently turning the new feature on turns night scenes into day scenes. I've no idea why they felt that was going to be appealing (or a useful comparison).

    I'm sure it's all great, but sheesh... if they're going to show side-by-side comparisons, they might at least try to make the two sides useful to compare.

  3. #3
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    In another thread we were talking about AI procedurally generating not just all game assets on the fly, but at some point entire games within a genre, and like you can do with AI Art already, you'll be able tailor your game according to descriptive terms to have it in the style of some artist, composer, game designer, etc. (And that too can be proc-gen'd for the unimaginative.)

    That's where all of this seems to be headed. It's like you won't even have to buy new games (music, art, novels, comics, tv shows, movies...) anymore because you can just hit a "Generate!" button and get whatever you want exactly as you want it, even with the right amount of novelty & unexpected surprises.

    Anyway I've been watching this new culture developing around the AI Art scene, and it's coming in hard & fast. And I think it's putting the writing on the wall how AI generation is going to change a lot of cultural scenes soon enough, gaming included.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Land of the crazy
    I use an NVidia Shield TV Pro as my primary streaming media player, and sometimes to stream games over my home network from my PC. It has NVidia's AI upscaling. You can toggle it on and off with one button press on the remote to see what it's doing. It's very flaky. After a fresh reboot of the Shield, it will temporarily work until it balks on unsupported content and then it needs a reboot again. When it works, the effect is like increasing the sharpness control on a TV, sometimes it brings out some additional detail and sometimes I see some artifacts. I'm not impressed. For 4K upscaling, the scaler in my Sony OLED TV stomps all over the Shield, especially with fast motion.

    RTX Remix looks interesting though. So far, I haven't been that impressed with the results people have been getting with ESRGAN. But man, Morrowind looks GOOD in that video.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    so good, I felt something

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    I confess I don't really get RTX/ray tracing. I mean, in theory it sounds like it should be amazing, but in that flight sim video I can't see the difference. In Gran Turismo 7 I can sort of see the difference, but it feels like the sort of thing where the tricks devs have used in the past to simulate realistic lighting look pretty much as good as actual realistic lighting in practice; I mean, you can go, "Yeah, that fire hydrant is actually reflected in the car's door if I really look closely at it," but the overall effect never seems to be aesthetically too different than a cube map or whatever other traditional techniques are used. In Deathloop I can't tell what ray tracing is doing at all other than halving the frame rate. I watched the Digital Foundry video on RTX in Cyberpunk, and even with their arrows pointing out what I should be looking at, it looked sort of different but not obviously, immediately better or more realistic.

    Couple this with the fact that nVidia seems to have settled on charging crypto/scalper prices for their new cards that can actually do ray tracing at high resolutions, and my enthusiasm for these next-gen graphics is pretty muted.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Washington DC
    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowcat View Post
    I love how the Flight Simulator "before" videos are still such a high frame-rate that I can't tell a shred of difference between that and the "after" video.
    Youtube's only rendering at 60FPS, so you're not going to see a difference.

    I've certainly noticed a difference going from 60Hz to 144Hz when actually playing games. It's not as immediately noticeable as the jump from 30 to 60, but going back to 60FPS-locked games, they now feel choppy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aja View Post
    I confess I don't really get RTX/ray tracing. I mean, in theory it sounds like it should be amazing, but in that flight sim video I can't see the difference. In Gran Turismo 7 I can sort of see the difference, but it feels like the sort of thing where the tricks devs have used in the past to simulate realistic lighting look pretty much as good as actual realistic lighting in practice; I mean, you can go, "Yeah, that fire hydrant is actually reflected in the car's door if I really look closely at it," but the overall effect never seems to be aesthetically too different than a cube map or whatever other traditional techniques are used. In Deathloop I can't tell what ray tracing is doing at all other than halving the frame rate. I watched the Digital Foundry video on RTX in Cyberpunk, and even with their arrows pointing out what I should be looking at, it looked sort of different but not obviously, immediately better or more realistic.
    In terms of visual effects, I find it really depends on the game. My favorite example of ray-tracing so far has been Metro Exodus, where the day/night cycle combined with dim environments and lots of indoor illumination produces some interesting effects, particularly with moving light sources. In Mechwarrior 5, it just seems to produce more realistic shadows at a hefty framerate cost.

    The more interesting part IMO is that from what I've seen it makes it significantly quicker and easier to implement realistic lighting. I don't think there's anything in this static scene that couldn't be done with conventional techniques, but the non-RTX game doesn't look like that. RTX is basically implementing lightmapping, dynamic lighting, global illumination, dynamic shadows, ambient occlusion, volumetric lighting, and reflections all at once, all seamlessly together, and without significant effort on the devs' part beyond setting up the light sources to begin with. And by doing it in realtime (unlike pre-baking ray-traced lightmaps) can update on the fly as things move. I've also read that with a sufficiently complex scene, ray tracing becomes optimal over rasterization, but I don't know where that point is or how relevant it is to gaming.

    I think Thirith's link to RTX Remix shows where it's headed. There's still a lot of work involved in setting up light sources and ensuring that objects have appropriate materials, but it's less than implementing all the modern lighting effects that RTX provides would be. Sooner or later I expect ray-traced rendering is going to be the norm.

  8. #8
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Quote Originally Posted by Aja View Post
    I confess I don't really get RTX/ray tracing. I mean, in theory it sounds like it should be amazing, but in that flight sim video I can't see the difference.
    This is also largely because games are designed to look good with shortcuts like screen space reflections, rather than raytraced reflections. SSR can fake a reflection in a way that looks good (tho fuzzy), but the object being reflected in a surface also has to be on-screen. Hence: you can get a cool fuzzy player reflection in a stainless steel elevator door in a 3rd person game like Control, but not in a first person game(there's no player on-screen to reflect!). With raytraced reflections you can reflect an object that's off-screen, and do so much more accurately.

    I'm tinkering with raytracing in Unity right now, juicing up my ol' hover taxi game. Looking like this at the moment: https://twitter.com/Henrik_Hermans/s...46079094657026 Turns out if you just slather everything in volumetric fog and raytraced reflections and lighting, even very simple geometry can look cool!

  9. #9
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    By the way, I didn't really go into the intermediate position between this and the more utopian direction things are going.

    The first thing I thought of when I saw this was great, now I can make the player character or AI into different characters and the environment match an aesthetic style I want, painted, watercolored, vintage, etc. I predict that's going to be the first big thing with this tech that people will start playing with. I mean upscaling is one prominent use, but I think it will be taken for granted and even seem quaint and "who can be content with only that much?" in very short order.

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