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Gaming Effects Versus Hollywood, Part II

The Creation Of Water

Water isn’t just the most important element in real life. In 3D games it has the greatest potential and profits the most from the introduction of pixel shaders. Before pixel shader technology was able to create transparent surfaces, reflection, and waves, water was just an opaque, matte blue surface with shadows painted on to simulate waves.

Oblivion improved the water simulation somewhat. Reflections were more realistic and waves were more pronounced. However, the 3D engine can’t have everything—at greater visibility, large surfaces of water appear flat and lifeless with increasing distance. If you have enough 3D power, it is possible to use the improved textures of Qarls and a modification of the configuration file to increase the richness of the graphics as well as visibility.

Although there are constantly excellent animations in games, water is seemingly reinvented with every new 3D engine. As early as 2002, Comanche 4 fascinated the PC market with simulated wave movements, transparent surfaces, and reflections. This perfection has only again been achieved with Bioshock (UT3 engine), which uses DirectX 10 to generate real waves by means of displacement. But this effect is nothing exceptional; Morrowind also allows you to trace a track of waves through the water. On the other hand, a new level has been reached by the light reflexes on the water surface and the distorted shadows below the water, where Bioshock does set new standards.

Another feature of Bioshock is the transparent, moving surfaces of water. The see-through curtain of water and trickle over the stairs are both implemented beautifully. As effects go, these come very close to their natural, real-life equivalents.

Water is still not a real object, of course. It is just an optical effect. In reality, water is made up of real particles which a game must first calculate using elaborate physics. This weakness can be seen in waterfalls, there, the very fine mist of water droplets is missing, being merely suggested via white textures.

  • lucuis
    It can only get better :)
  • roynaldi
    Wasser -1, Wasser -3, -5, Wasserfall, Bewegungsunscharfe*.....

    German Tab names for the pics... Very Nice guys!
  • neiroatopelcc
    Part 1 had german names for the images too. I don't see how that is of any importance though as the titles for the respective pages were translated. Some of the games were in german too in case you missed it btw (bioshock amongst others)

    Anyway. I read the article and can't help to somehow be disappointed. Sure it's well written and explained, but somehow there's something missing! it seems to be more of the first part and not enough hollywood somehow. There are like 85% gaming screenshots, 8% reallife and the remaining 7% are hollywood. Also the article only covers stuff hollywood uses and games do too - nothing mentioned of stuff that pc's cant do yet other than visual enhancements that aren't treated as manipulatable objects - but then hollywood doesn't really supply that either, as all their stuff is static each time it's displayed.

    In short : not enough hollywood, and too much pc tech.
  • thr3ddy
    roynaldiWasser -1, Wasser -3, -5, Wasserfall, Bewegungsunscharfe*..... German Tab names for the pics... Very Nice guys!*movementSharpness!?!?Bewegungsunscharfe
  • thr3ddy
    Crap sorry about the double post. Bewegungsunscharfe = Motion blur.
  • Why are there no examples of the Source engine in these articles? The physics is unparalleled in a lot of ways. The new cinematic physics engine? Hello? What they do with characters alone (mostly in animation/facial animation) is amazing. I also don't notice any Gears/UT3 examples, which is just weird.
  • Tis a shame you mention water graphics and have no references to Uncharted.

    @Anony-Guy the first example was UT3 engine (stranglehold. I must admit though gears 2 had better water graphics.
  • hellwig
    I remember a cool water effect in Giants. If you ran through a body of water, the water would appear to react to your legs, and waves of water would rush up against the them. Of course, this wasn't really the water reacting, it was just a secondary effect being drawn at the point where the legs met the water. It still looked cool for a game from 8 years ago.

    I'm surprised there were no examples of water from Serious Sam. SS had transparent water, shadows cast underneath by the ripples on the water surface, etc..., and again, all back in 2000/2001. The Serious Engine was so impressive when it came out, far better than Quake III and UT, the other options at that time.
  • cruiseoveride
    Where is the Playboy Mansion PC vs Real life comparison????
  • JonnyDough
    What they need is better ripple effects now. When you walk through water, your character needs to slow and teeter more. Each stride should make noise, not just a general noise of sploshing. When you drop a gun in water, it needs come out dripping wet. When you swim, you need to do it in lunges, not smoothly. When the tide rolls in, the sand needs to change a bit over time. Your footprints need to disappear with each wave, etc. These little things aren't that hard to implement, and should not be taking up much system resources. I think it's just laziness on the part of most developers. There's always this "time limit" and "budget" that interfere as well...but then you have a monster giant corporation like EA who is spending money on stupid things like SecuRom instead of producing great games that will make sales.