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Nvidia's building an AI mod tool that can automatically remaster classic games

(Image credit: Nvidia/Bethesda)

This week, Nvidia revealed RTX Remix, a mod tool that can nearly automate the process of creating HD remasters for classic PC games, adding ray tracing and other modern graphical techniques with the touch of a button.

For now, Nvidia's showing it off with The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. A demonstration video shows you can hit a button to capture any scene in the game. Then, the RTX Remix tool can import that captured scene, adding ray-traced lighting to the game's original light sources, automatically upscaling the game's textures to AI-enhanced versions, and turning those textures into modern, realistic materials that can naturally interact with light and show.

Again, that step of the process all happens automatically, according to Nvidia. Pure AI upscales are never perfect, of course, but the tool then allows modders to easily tweak lighting and materials from directly within the scene. In one example, the AI enhancement doesn't correctly account for the light coming from a paper lantern - it makes the paper completely opaque, hiding the light that's supposed to be emitted. With just a few button presses, however, the modder turns the lantern into a transparent material that looks perfect in the new scene.

RTX Remix also integrates directly with modeling tools like Maya, so modders can create brand-new, high-detail objects and easily import them into the game. Check it all out in the video below, or get more detail in Nvidia's blog post (opens in new tab).

It all sounds a bit too good to be true, and the real question is just how many games this tool will support. Nvidia says this tool will let modders "remaster supported DirectX 8 and DirectX 9 games with fixed function graphics pipelines." We don't actually know what "supported" means here, and it's unclear whether Nvidia will have to create a whitelist of supported games, as it does with its DLSS upscaler.

The requirement of a "fixed function graphics pipeline" may also limit this technology to only very old games. As extrwi (opens in new tab), creator of the essential Skyrim Script Extender mod explains on Reddit, "This appears to only work on games that were compatible with the GeForce 2," a GPU series released in the early 2000s. "The fixed function graphics pipeline is important because games designed around it didn't do lighting and mesh transformations with their own code. They passed mesh data and light positions in to DirectX, and the video driver handled it from there. This means it's very simple to figure out what is being drawn."

Nvidia says the upcoming Portal with RTX update was created with RTX Remix, however, so there may still be more modern applications for the tool. Whichever games are supported, you won't actually need an Nvidia graphics card to make use of these remasters. Nvidia says that while an RTX GPU is required to create these mods, "any hardware that can run Vulkan ray-traced games" will be capable of using the results.

Hopefully, a big chunk of the best classic PC games will enjoy the benefits of this work.

Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.