Where Sailaway II used a non-linear scale to simulate distance, the new SA3 ocean has a radius of 50 kilometers and bends away with the curvature of the earth. This will give a better sense of distance.
All computations are now done by the CPU rather than the GPU (more info here...). This leaves the GPU free for high quality rendering.
The sea is transparent near the beach, but has a more solid color when the water becomes deeper. The simulator measures the distance from the eye to the surface of the water and to the first contact with solid land or boat or object behind it. The difference between those two will determine how transparent the water will be.
A water surface will change the viewing angle. The ripples and the waves will therefor have an effect on what is seen when you look through the water. Objects under water will continuously seem to move.
Depending on the viewing angle a water surface functions as a mirror or becomes transparent. Sailaway III uses high resolution reflection sampling to display an accurate reflection on the water surface.
In shallow water the sunlight through the distorted water surface will cause a caustic effects on the bottom.
Buoyant objects (buoys and boats) can now use the actual water surface for the buoyancy computations, resulting in a more natural behavior. In SA2 this had to be computed separate, because the waves themselves only existed on the graphics card.
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