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Earlier this summer, Valve released a retro version of the iconic Dust 2 map for CS:GO. While the map tried to recreate Dust 2’s original appearance, at least one modder wasn’t happy with it. Now, that modder released a CS:GO mod that used A.I. upscaling to improve the textures on the retro Dust 2.
When Valve released the retro version of Dust 2 for the Counter-Strike series’ 20th birthday, it did so with low resolution textures. In response to this, modder 3klikphilip decided to create high resolution versions of these textures as part of a mod on the CS:GO workshop on Steam. To do so, he used an A.I. upscaler so that he wouldn’t have to manually update each texture image by hand.
3klikphilip explained both the advantages of using an A.I. upscaler, as well as his process in a video he released. Here he explained that, in addition to creating higher resolution textures, he also upscaled the map’s skybox. This required a bit of extra work on his part due to some issues with the original skybox that he needed to address. On top of all this, he also added normal maps to some of the textures so that the light falling on them would appear to come from the correct direction.
Now, 3klikphilip does point out that the A.I. still runs into some issues. This is most visible in high contrast areas, where the A.I. tends to create harsh lines in the upscaled image. Meanwhile, some wood and stone textures look. That said, he stated that these are probably the highest resolution that the A.I. can do and that the textures start to look “cartoony looking” at resolutions that are higher than that.
More importantly, 3klikphilip stated that the A.I. upscaling doesn’t make the retro version of Dust 2 look at good as the default CS:GO version — the former simply lacks the additional geometry and details of the latter. However, he also stated that the upscaled textures make the map look much more like it did in 2004’s Counter-Strike: Source.
The mod does raise the possibility of A.I. upscaling being used to make older games look much better. Will we see more of these types of mods as the technology becomes more commonplace? That certainly sounds like a great use of it, at least for gamers.