How Remedy and Nvidia teamed up to push PC gaming to its limits with Control


Control, the new game from Remedy (the team behind Max Payne and Alan Wake), could be the new benchmark when it comes to visually stunning PC games.

In collaboration with Nvidia, Remedy has managed to offer Control some of the most impressive visual effects. Especially with PC games that look better than ever, it can be difficult to really stand out today – but Control will definitely make it.

During Trustedreviews's PC Gaming Week 2019, we talked to team members from Remedy and Nvidia about how the two companies worked together to bring PC games to their limits.

(Credit: Remedy Entertainment)

Raytracing wins

One of the most exciting innovations in PC gaming graphics is ray tracing. This is a technology driven primarily by Nvidia's RTX series of GPUs, allowing PCs to deliver amazingly lifelike lighting and shadow effects in a scene.

While Ray Tracing is impressive – and has great potential – there are also some problems. First, it does not support many cards and it is often very demanding, which means that the frame rates may take a jump unless you are looking for a very powerful (and expensive) kit.

Another problem is that there are different types of raytracing and ways to implement it, which can be confusing. The first thing we wanted to know is what kind of raytracing Control uses?

"Control uses ray tracing through hybrid rendering, combines rasterization and ray tracing, and provides multiple ray-tracing effects. Reflections, transparent reflections, indirect diffused light and contact shadows, "explains Juha Sjöholm, Senior Devtech Engineer at Nvidia.

How does this technology work? "Raytrace reflections simulate the way light is reflected on shiny and metallic surfaces, and transparent reflections allow the same effect on windows and other translucent surfaces.

"Traditionally, reflections have been rendered only with on-screen information and pre-made cube maps, and cube maps can capture portions of the scene that are off-screen, but not dynamic objects such as moving characters, often blurring between reflections in the screen area and dice maps quite inaccurate and wrong results. "

"With Ray Tracing, we can easily render accurate reflections, including dynamic objects and off-screen information."

Juha Sjöholm, Senior Devtech Engineer

How does this technology work? "Raytrace reflections simulate the way light is reflected on shiny and metallic surfaces, and transparent reflections allow the same effect on windows and other translucent surfaces."

"Traditionally, reflections have been rendered only with on-screen information and pre-made cube maps, and cube maps can capture portions of the scene that are off-screen, but not dynamic objects such as moving characters, often blurring between reflections in the screen area and dice maps quite inaccurate and wrong results. "

control

(Credit: Remedy Entertainment)

In the past, game developers had to cut back on lighting, shadows, and reflections, which can affect realism. The next time you play a game, take a look at a shiny surface or a mirror if you can. You may find that it does not look right. According to Sjöholm Ray Tracing can solve that.

"With Ray Tracing, we can easily render accurate reflections, including dynamic objects and off-screen information. In practice – and at best – beamed reflections can show the players what is going on behind them. "

It's such small details that can be found in Control that can make a big difference when it comes to believable and impressive graphics in PC games.

For example, Sjöholm explains how indirect diffused light can be used in games to make graphics more believable. This is the case if your PC's graphics card has a glare between non-glossy surfaces. "Taking this indirect light into account," says Sjöholm, "gives you a more realistic picture on the screen. For example, a brightly lit red carpet might reflect a subtle red glow on a nearby wall. "

You can see this effect as soon as you start Control. The game begins in The Oldest House, a brightly lit office building in New York City. "Indirect diffuse illumination with ray tracing in Control consists of two parts: For nearby surfaces, a jump of the (dynamic) diffuse real-time reflection is evaluated. If no nearby surfaces are found, we will instead use the beam information to test pre-burned global illumination at a more optimal location. The end result is that the lighting feels "more natural" and objects "sit better" in the scene.

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Another way to use Raytracing in Control to get better graphics is Contract Shadowing. "Contact shadows are a hybrid technique in which we track shadow rays to create precise shadowing on any surface near the shadow cast," says Sjöholm. "Shadow mapping techniques typically suffer from aliasing and the ability to capture fine details such as contacts between objects, which can cause various types of bad patterns and objects to" float "on a surface. Contract shadows resolve these issues and improve realism. "

control

(Credit: Remedy Entertainment)

Although raytracing has a big impact on the graphical quality of PC games, can it be combined with 4K resolution? "Ray tracing in 4K is possible but requires hardware," Sjöholm admits. But is not that out of the question? "Depending on which raytracing features are enabled and whether DLSS is used, the game offers a playable 4K experience."

So that's it is On existing hardware this is possible, but a few optimizations – and some would say compromises – have to be made to get the game running with 4K and ray tracing effects and a playable frame rate. Apparently, we're still waiting for hardware that handles all the graphical issues associated with raytracing at 4K resolutions. This may be possible with the next generation of Nvidia graphics cards.

"Running Ray Tracing in 4K is possible, but it places high demands on the hardware."

Juha Sjöholm

As Sjöholm has already mentioned, DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) can be used to reduce the impact of ray tracing on performance with artificial intelligence. "DLSS can be used with ray tracing, and we recommend using both together. In many scenarios, DLSS performance enhancements offset the effects of ray tracing, allowing you to play with higher frame rates, resolutions, and quality settings. "

What kind of kit do you need?

Do you need an Nvidia GPU to use the Raytracing feature in Control? The answer is no … and yes.

"Well, technically, Ray Tracing in Control is not an Nvidia GPU-exclusive feature," says Sjöholm. "We've achieved Ray Tracing with DirectX 12 DXR and it's based on an open standard. It just so happens that Nvidia GPUs are currently the only ones that support this open standard. When new GPUs come out that support DirectX12 DXR, they should also benefit from ray tracing. "

So when AMD graphics cards come out that support ray tracing, owners of these cards can benefit from the work of Nvidia and Remedy on Control.

However, as Sjöholm points out, there are certain features that you can only get with a Team Green card. "Control also offers Nvidia DLSS, which is only available on Nvidia GPUs."

How Remedy and Nvidia teamed up to push PC gaming to its limits with Control 1

(Image credits: future)

It's undeniable that the Raytracing feature puts a heavy strain on your score, especially with graphical tour de forces like Control. But not everyone can afford a killer gaming PC. What performance can one expect from average PC hardware – such as an Intel Core i5 processor and an Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU?

"The control provides a great experience without raytracing, but raytracing improves the visual impact in a positive way."

Juha Sjöholm

"With the RTX 2060, you can enable ray-traced reflections on opaque and transparent surfaces, and run the game with very consistent frame rates," promises Sjöholm. That way, you can run Ray tracing control on the Nvidia mid-range graphics card. However, you may need to make some adjustments. "You can turn ray tracing on and off in any combination to personalize your experience. However, you can turn on all raytracing effects and still expect a solid, fluid gameplay – DLSS will help to get the best possible results Frame rates at maximum graphics settings. "

It sounds like DLSS is lifting a lot here. However, there was a lot of talk about the high system requirements Really Get the most out of your control. Do Nvidia hope that PC gamers will upgrade their rigs – especially if they do not have an RTX card?

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"The control provides a great experience without raytracing, but raytracing improves the visual impact in a positive way," says Sjöholm. "In fact, Control offers some stunning effects and is already being touted as a showcase for Raytrace graphics. Ultimately, only the player can decide if it's time for a hardware upgrade, but it seems that upgrading to a GPU that supports DXR is currently the most meaningful. "

control

(Credit: Remedy Entertainment)

So basically yes. Nvidia hopes games like Control will encourage gamers to update their GPUs. But does not that mean there's extra pressure to make sure it's the best and best-looking game that gamers will ever see? "We wanted Control to look as good as possible to gamers, and using RTX hardware provides the best possible gaming experience," says Sjöholm.

Build a credible world with modern technology

While all these new graphic effects are certainly interesting, how important are graphics for building an immersive and believable world?

"Of immense importance," confirms Stuart MacDonald, World Design Director of Remedy Entertainment. "Usually, our games have pretty difficult visual concepts to express, from the look of frozen time in Quantum Break to the liquid falsification of hiss in control or the vision of an environment.

"In Control, physicality was a big pillar for us, from telekinesis and destruction to material and brutalist architecture, which meant, for example, that architectural spaces could be rendered that required good lighting solutions because of the very simple wall surfaces and details."

The results speak for themselves. When you load Control and browse the office building for the first time, the setting is extremely familiar and believable, and the graphics undoubtedly help. In particular raytracing makes a wonderful contribution to make the world credible.

control

(Credit: Remedy Entertainment)

"Raytracing makes it possible to present the game world more realistically and correctly," explains Sjöholm. "It is possible to display details that were previously too difficult to capture. Ray tracing brings the quality of reflections, shadows and indirect lighting to the next level in Control. "

The technology not only benefits from great action scenes, but also from smaller details. And it is precisely these details that undoubtedly help to make a game world look more realistic and feel more realistic.

"Interactions between different objects and surfaces become more detailed through beamed contact shadows. In earlier techniques, smaller objects appear to "float" on surfaces. Contact shadows bring out the smallest details so that you can see interactions and contacts, "says Sjöholm. "Notice how various office supplies cover a table with subtle shadows or how walking Jesse (the character of the player) becomes more realistic."

"When we started working on the game, we knew we wanted to do a physics-heavy game."

Mikko Orrenmaa, Technical Team Leader, Remed

Allowing the player to interact with the world is another important facet in building a credible world. But how interactive is the world in your control?

"The world is very interactive in Control. When we started working on the game, we knew we wanted to do a physics-heavy game, "said Mikko Orrenmaa, Tech Team Manager at Remedy Entertainment. "To do that, we've internally developed new asset resolution tools and a new workflow that allows content creators to create environments that could be destroyed."

One of the first things you notice when you play the game and get into a fight first is how the environment around you is destroyed. Bullets tear wood and concrete chunks off the walls as the glass in the windows bursts realistically. All this creates an exciting – and immersive – experience.

This was, as Orrenmaa explains, a lot of work. "On the engine side, we've rewritten our entire physics system so that the Northlight engine can do all these reactive environments and destructions in the game. We also add particle collisions to make the destruction look better. "

It's not just about how the world looks, but how it sounds. "We also had to modify our audio and AI systems. A dynamic, reactive environment affects how sound works when you destroy things and move through the debris you create. In addition, the AI ​​characters need to be responsive and able to navigate properly in this newly destroyed environment. "

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control

(Credit: Remedy Entertainment)

So, what kind of challenges have created this level of detail and destruction?

"A lot of destruction in the game involves a variety of challenges to properly break objects and ensure that the player can interact with objects in a meaningful way," Orrenmaa says. "On the content creation side, this adds extra work to the team, as all destructible content needs to be defined as to when and how it will be damaged. A chair made of metal legs and a seat with springs differ from a wooden box, which differs from a desk with drawers. "

This hard work and attention to detail has paid off, as Control has one of the most realistic worlds we've seen in a recent PC game, despite its far-fetched history. Speaking of which …

Master the art of storytelling

Computer games also put a lot of emphasis on storytelling to attract and keep players running. Remedy is especially known for making games with strong stories – and telling them in an innovative way. Did it try something new with Control?

"It's no shame to say that all of our previous games were fairly linear," admits Vida Starcevic, community manager, Remedy Entertainment.

"We knew the path the player should take, and we guided you this way. Control is much more open when it comes to level design: you can go where you want, when you're creative with your skills and your environment. This meant that we needed to find another way to tell Jesse's story and the history of the Federal Bureau of Control. "

"It's no shame to say that all our previous games were fairly linear."

Vida Starcevic, community manager, Remed

Part of the narrative of this story is the use of the beliefs that Remedy created. "We use a lot of environmental storytelling methods, such as worldwide videos the bureau creates, as well as files and audio files you can find. There are also characters to talk to to find out more about the world. "

control

(Credit: Remedy Entertainment)

Therefore, according to Starcevic research is definitely rewarded. But if you do not want to pick up on anything in the world – no matter how lovingly rendered – that does not mean that you're confused by the story. "You will not miss an important part of the plot if you do not read a document hidden in a room behind a locked door. The things that make the conspiracy are all on the main mission, but we've hidden a lot of secrets throughout the game, and it's worth finding them. "

The history of control – there are no spoilers here – is certainly one of the best features. But what was the biggest influence on the control team?

"We're never just inspired by video games or just a medium," explains Starcevic. "The main inspiration for Control comes from the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer and the filming of the first book Annihilation (Director: Alex Garland). We were also inspired by some motifs in House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Of course, creators like David Lynch and Stephen King also inspired us. "

"It gets pretty weird, you fight a fridge and a mirror at one point."

Vida Starcevic

Of course, the environments of control are as conspicuous as the narrative. "In aesthetic terms, the architecture of the office is strongly influenced by the architectural style of Brutalism."

So that's an intoxicating mix of influences. How funny is Control? "It's going to be pretty funny. You fight at one point against a fridge and a mirror. "

That's a good answer. But we're seeing some brilliant PC games these days – both AAA and indie games – and that can make games, no matter how good, have a hard time differentiating themselves. What sets Control apart from modern games?

"There are not many games in which you can throw things into a secret facility dedicated to the study of supernatural phenomena," says Starcevic.

"There are even fewer games in which you have a weapon whose shape changes, a wrong pyramid that talks to you, or where you are being chased by a nasty rubber duck. The control is characterized by both the nonsense of the narrative and the scene as well as the combination of telepathy-based mechanics with the switchgear. "

When it comes to pushing PC games to their limits, maybe it's not just about graphics …

Welcome to Trustedreviews's PC Gaming Week 2019. We're celebrating the world's most powerful gaming platform with in-depth articles, exclusive interviews, and important buying guides that showcase everything PC gaming has to offer. Visit our PC Gaming Week 2019 Page to see all our coverage in one place.

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