Pretty sure a lot of people played or at least knew about Portal with RTX. As one of the very first titles that implemented NVIDIA’s leading ray tracing technology from Valve, the mass improvement in visual fidelity provided extreme immersion for those who liked to burn their brains solving tough puzzles while enjoying eye candies at the same time.
And now, the same innovative breakthrough has arrived at the most well-known Portal mod of all time. Introducing the Portal: Prelude RTX.
High-end challenging mod with hyper-realistic lighting tech
If you’re wondering what’s the deal with Portal: Prelude in general, it is basically a fan-made mod designed to crank up the challenging factor of the original game through the use of different blocks made with different textures and properties.
It might not seem that intuitive back in the day but in Portal: Prelude RTX, all of them plays a crucial role in delivering a hellish experience (at least a very beautiful one). These include multi-layer glass refracting light with utmost accuracy, immense contrast ratio when moving between dark rooms and bright areas, and even the particle disintegrator clearing everything in its way in style.
Bringing life to a 2008 game engine
The new RTX version is home to 200 new materials and textures alongside 100 new models placed on top of Portal with RTX’s existing remade assets for a new yet “familiar” experience.
All geometries which were advanced during its time in 2008, are updated and upgraded in the usual Half-Life Engine Tools before being imported and automatically “upgraded” by RTX Remix.
How long did it take the devs to complete it? 8 months for a team of 5 people!
Behind the scenes with Grevet and Driver-Gomm
The main guys behind the project revolve around Nicholas “Nyk018” Grevet and David “Kralich” Driver-Gomm that filled the shoes of software engineer of the original Portal: Prelude for the former and seasoned modder for the latter.
The duo first captured all levels of the game in 360-degree fashion with RTX Remix in the form of screenshots acting as the base and reference shots. Then, by launching the RTX Remix Runtime program, they are capable of simultaneously scanning the scenes and replacing assets on the fly while adding RTX technology such as NVIDIA Reflex whenever possible.
As for any 3D assets that require minimal tuning such as shapes and geometry optimization or ray-traced lighting and shadows, they ported them into NVIDIA Omniverse via Blender Connector thanks to the use of the OpenUSD file format, allowing them to apply changes and see them reflected in real time for the best representation.
The next step involves the UV unwrapping of assets and the transition to Adobe Substance 3D Painter and Sampler to recreate ultra-high quality physically based render models with real-world optics applied.
Both creators rocked the latest GeForce RTX 40 series GPU that accelerates all GPU-based filters while seconds are only needed for RTX-accelerated light and ambient occlusion baking.
Swapping models of old with new is super straightforward with just a few clicks in RTX Remix yet it is not the final step as they are determined to add the real deal – path-traced lighting into every single level. And they did just that.
The final product feels like “light years ahead of what I could do alone” and made out of magic with the amount of potential RTX Remix is providing, quoting Grevet’s thoughts on the project.
Every little RTX tech counts
Graphical-based features are not the only things that made Portal: Prelude RTX possible without some of the more technical stuff, one of it being RTX IO.
In short, it is NVIDIA’s take on accelerating GPU-based loading and game asset decompression that can beat any traditional storage APIs with ease. As a result, smaller data packages can be streamed in at a higher rate while reducing CPU utilization.
And let’s not forget the “turn on and get free FPS” DLSS 3, exclusive to GeForce RTX 40 series GPUs, leveraging the most sophisticated AI upscaling algorithm to date to create buttery smooth gameplay with eye-catching visuals. 20+ FPS vs 110+ FPS in 4K? Count me in!
If you need a detailed graph on what sort of settings your rig could handle, check out the image below.