Half Life 2 RTX won’t use AI textures, devs are crafting “every pixel”

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While the likes of Quake and Portal have proven to be impressive showcases for Nvidia RTX Remix, the task put before the Half-Life 2 RTX development team is on another level. Taking a moment away from the mod’s development, Chris Workman, founder of Orbifold studios shared some insight on the levels of care and attention it takes to bring path tracing and more to a classic PC game.

20 years on from its launch in 2004, Half-Life 2 is set to push the best graphics cards to their limits once again thanks to Nvidia RTX Remix. While there’s no word yet on official system requirements for the mod just yet, performance on older pixel pushers could prove more frightening than navigating Ravenholm.

“We have a backlog of several thousand assets to be done for Half-Life 2,” Workman shares in an interview with PC Gamer. “Each and every asset we’re taking the time to make sure we get right and that is time consuming.” If this didn’t already sound like a mountainous task for the team, Workman goes on step further by saying, “I might even venture as far as to say probably one of the biggest modding projects, considering how long Half-Life 2 itself took to develop.”

One of the tools that could be use to speed up development of Half-Life 2 RTX is AI upscaling, which Nvidia RTX Remix offers right out of the box. However, Workman highlights that Orbifold Studios won’t be using AI. Instead, the team is “essentially scrutinising every single pixel to make sure we’re hitting the exact same notes that the original designer intended on certain assets and certain materials.”

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As Workman succinctly puts it, “everybody remembers [Half-Life 2] in their own way,” so staying as true to the original intent as possible through handcrafted assets is a smart if time-consuming move. Personally, I’m glad that such a treasured PC game appears to be in such caring hands as Orbifold Studios.

As we’ve seen from other examples of RTX Remix mods, like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Need for Speed: Underground 2, the tools its offers are powerful but are by no means plug and play. One of the members of the NFS: Underground 2 modding team speaks to this in the PC Gamer interview, highlighting the unique challenges that each game presents and their comments are well worth a read.

For more on RTX Remix, check out our coverage of the Half-Life 2 RTX announcement while we wait for Orbifold Studios to share a release date. You can also follow the team on their official X account @HL2RTXOfficial, where you can see new assets created for the mod, like Father Grigori (as featured in this story) crafted by brilliantly talented artists like Sebastian Ignacio Roman (@thelenoaxlenoax).

Don’t forget that you’ll need a powerful graphics card at your disposal to run it, so give our GeForce RTX 4070 Super review a read if you need an upgrade.

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