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NVIDIA’s implementation of RTX ray-tracing in Quake II
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Quake II RTX

Quake II RTX is NVIDIA's attempt at implementing a fully functional version of Id Software's 1997 hit game Quake II with RTX path-traced global illumination.

Quake II RTX builds upon the Q2VKPT branch of the Quake II open source engine. Q2VKPT was created by former NVIDIA intern Christoph Schied, a Ph.D. student at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

Q2VKPT, in turn, builds upon Q2PRO, which is a modernized version of the Quake II engine. Consequently, many of the settings and console variables that work for Q2PRO also work for Quake II RTX. The client and server manuals are particularly useful.


Quake II RTX is licensed under the terms of the GPL v.2 (GNU General Public License). You can find the entire license in the license.txt file.

The Quake II game data files remain copyrighted and licensed under the original id Software terms, so you cannot redistribute the pak files from the original game.


Quake II RTX introduces the following features:

  • Caustics approximation
  • Cylindrical projection mode
  • Dynamic lighting for items such as blinking lights, signs, switches, elevators and moving objects
  • Dynamic real-time "time of day" lighting
  • Flare gun and other high-detail weapons
  • High-quality screenshot mode
  • Improved denoising technology
  • Multi-GPU (SLI) support
  • Multiplayer modes (deathmatch and cooperative)
  • Optional two-bounce indirect illumination
  • Particles, laser beams, and new explosion sprites
  • Physically based materials, including roughness, metallic, emissive, and normal maps
  • Player avatar (casting shadows, visible in reflections)
  • Reflections and refractions on water and glass, reflective chrome and screen surfaces
  • Procedural environments (sky, mountains, clouds that react to lighting; also space)
  • Sunlight with direct and indirect illumination
  • Volumetric lighting (god-rays)

You can download functional builds of the game from NVIDIA or Steam.

Additional Information

Also, some source files have comments that explain various parts of the renderer:

Support and Feedback

System Requirements

In order to build Quake II RTX you will need the following software installed on your computer (with at least the specified versions or more recent ones).

Operating System

Windows Linux
Min Version Win 7 x64 Ubuntu 16

Note: only the Windows 10 version has been extensively tested.

Note: distributions that are binary compatible with Ubuntu 16 should work as well.


Min Version
NVIDIA driver
Vulkan SDK


Build Instructions

  1. Clone the repository and its submodules from git :

    git clone --recursive

  2. Create a build folder named build under the repository root (q2rtx/build)

    Note: this is required by the shader build rules.

  3. Copy (or create a symbolic link) to the game assets folder (q2rtx/baseq2)

    Note: the asset packages from the binary build of Quake II RTX are required for the engine to run. Specifically, the blue_noise.pkz and q2rtx_media.pkz files or their extracted contents.

  4. Configure CMake with either the GUI or the command line and point the build at the build folder created in step 2.

    Note: only 64-bit builds are supported, so make sure to select a 64-bit generator during the initial configuration of CMake.

  5. Build with Visual Studio on Windows, make on Linux, or the CMake command line:

    cmake --build .

Music Playback Support

Quake II RTX supports music playback from OGG files, if they can be located. To enable music playback, copy the CD tracks into a music folder either next to the executable, or inside the game directory, such as baseq2/music. The files should use one of these two naming schemes:

  • music/02.ogg for music copied directly from a game CD;
  • music/Track02.ogg for music from the version of Quake II downloaded from GOG.

In the game, music playback is enabled when console variable ogg_enable is set to 1. Music volume is controlled by console varaible ogg_volume. Playback controls, such as selecting the track or putting it on pause, are available through the ogg command.

Music playback support is using code adapted from the Yamagi Quake 2 engine.

MIDI Controller Support

The Quake II console can be remote operated through a UDP connection, which allows users to control in-game effects from input peripherals such as MIDI controllers. This is useful for tuning various graphics parameters such as position of the sun, intensities of lights, material parameters, filter settings, etc.

You can find a compatible MIDI controller driver here

To enable remote access to your Quake II RTX client, you will need to set the following console variables before starting the game, i.e. in the config file or through the command line:

 rcon_password "<password>"
 backdoor "1"

Note: the password set here should match the password specified in the korgi configuration file.

Note 2: enabling the rcon backdoor allows other people to issue console commands to your game from other computers, so choose a good password.

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