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.