Back in June of last year, id Software announced Doom Eternal would support Vulkan-powered raytracing through the id Tech 7 game engine. Fast forward to today and it looks as if that real-time raytracing implementation is going to have to wait a while. Id Software has now admitted it hasn’t spent much time on adding ray-tracing to Doom Eternal whatsoever, choosing instead to focus on other key technical areas.
Instead of real-time raytracing effects, id Software has chosen to put its tech efforts elsewhere, chiefly on massively expanding the size and scale of the levels, as well as improved physics and destructibility, updated animations, and demonic destruction systems. “Bigger, better, bolder” was id Software’s demands from its tech team, and it’s meant the shiny new raytracing effects have fallen by the wayside.
“So we actually haven’t talked about that at all and we, quite frankly, haven’t spent a ton of time,” explained Doom Eternal’s executive producer and id Software studio director, Marty Stratton, during a chat with Digital Foundry. “The team basically did some initial implementation and exploration about a year ago but at that same time, we had so much that we wanted to do on the game still.
“Our tech team, they are the biggest fans of new tech. So it was a little hard to pull everybody off of that because it was the shiny new toy but when we’re talking about getting the game out there and getting it out as close to on time as possible and at the highest polish quality, we kinda had to pull back that effort.
“It is something that they’re literally just about ready to start looking at it again. And they actually have some interesting ideas. I don’t want to go too far down on that path cause who knows exactly what we’ll do. However, there is more that you can use the technology for than just reflections, shadows and the real-time lighting.”
At the risk of sounding a touch churlish, it seems an apt time to hark back to Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s iconic words - “It just works.” Evidently, this isn’t strictly true. The additional time required to add and optimise the raytracing effects in Doom Eternal has been deemed surplus to requirements, at least prior to launch.
Doom Eternal will be out on March 20th for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia and, later in the year, on Nintendo Switch.