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Is the engine capable of nice looking water that isn't plastic?

I’ve been looking at various water packs and got the free one they had a while back. The creator did a good job with what he had to work with at the time but so far all waters still look plastic and lack substance and shine.

They lack that kind of effect you’d expect and don’t compare well to even some older games like gta v. No game looks perfect but i feel unreal should be better.

Yes, the engine is capable of whatever you’re able to achieve in the material editor. Using the correct spec for water, fading out normals based on distance/fresnel, and a more believable normal movement for waves is a start.

Water subject is a tough one, not every water are equal, being a pound, to a lake, a river or an ocean. Our community member @Deathrey posted on Unreal Slackers Discord server these videos for your taste:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=wIHOYeWdgIM

https://youtube.com/watch?v=QR8Wk4KQ9Zg

and later this: https://streamable.com/7dqxs

I am working on my own asset to be released near March/April, which we are working hard to bring something realistic for film and something optimized for games (seems realistic, but is not) which you can follow in this thread:

https://forums.unrealengine.com/unre…r-ocean-plugin

The engine is capable!

This one is as plastic as it gets heh.

You’d need to figure out something with subsurface scattering on translucency, but you can’t get nice SSS on a translucent surface in UE4 without resorting to custom solutions. Really good SSS like Subsurface Profile is only available on opaque surfaces, and while translucency has a lot of lighting options, it’s generally a much poorer quality than anything opaque. And you’d need to calculate shadows as well.

For this water shader I’m using a custom light vector and the dot product, but not clamping the result and actually using that wrap around to mimic “subsurface scattering.” Add 0.5 to the dot, then multiply by 2/3, scale by a parameter to get the final result. I instead choose to focus on things the engine does well: refraction and depth, as well as Fresnel effects.

Also, I can’t use lit water because I’m casting a light function underneath the water, and the poor resolution on the translucent lighting causes massive artifacts outside the field, similar to LPV.

It is a pretty plastic water thou. Get it plastic might be easy, but pretty is another level of competence. I like it :slight_smile:

The first two vids of yours are pretty decent for big ocean water and waves but in most other examples water lacks that certain something that a few games seem to have.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=STf3efsVmjM

This is the best short vid i could find from gtav which shows some of what im talking about (watch in 4k fullscreen!). Notice how the water shines and looks good at all angles especially noticeable in the last half. It doesn’t have such plastic looking quality or unrealistic waves as unreal does.

Also a lot of the more clear looking lake waters i’ve found when viewed from an fps angle seem to fade away at the shoreline and lack substance. Thinking about it im not sure i’ve seen good glass or transparent stuff in general?

The best clear pool water effect demo comes from epic themselves which you can see below (skip to 42 minutes in).

https://youtube.com/watch?v=QGIKrD7uHu8

Sadly though they never released the project or a tool to easily do this ourselves?

The problem with the water is that its physical attributes are the responsible for the way we see it. Same happens with snow (which is a form water assumes). To have an extreme approximation we would need a simulation, which can be achievable, but at an expense of performance. Now that I said this, there is a possibility that soon (it already started with RTX/DXR) in the next months, the rendering module at the engine will go through an overhaul, beyond of what we know, and while we will greatly get first benefits from DLSS for the dynamic shadows (which are really poor at small angles) we will greatly receive benefit for the reflections, which is key. Since, the new architectures for top console makers are already pointing to have Raytracing capabilities, I am one to try to dig into the extreme use of every feature at my disposal, because my business is film and we do love realism, but we also want stylized end results.

It is sad indeed they didn’t released that demo… kinda pointless show it and never release it.

Oh yeah i forgot about some of the render stuff i saw last year. I wasn’t sure back then if it was just an nvidia tech demo like usual. Nice to hear they’re going to make some official engine improvements.

Though i suspect most of it won’t be as useful to older gen graphics?

Looking at the gtav example vid do you think it’s possible to get close currently?

I don’t get how an older engine can do it so well but not unreal. Is it mostly artistic or some issue with the engine that can’t produce nice shiny surface point light reflections along with decent refraction and transparency effects?

These days our seas and oceans contains a large amount of plastic waste. So in that respect… the water packs are quite accurate!

Indeed, it won’t be useful for old gen graphics, but we still need to see what the engineers are learning with this whole process and see if it possible to have something for old gen using which can at least fix the damm shadowing. As for reflections, it really depends on the new tech, so we won’t see any improvement. Keep in mind that, today if you say a team is starting to develop a game and with common development cycle is around 2-3 years, it is possible that this title will use the new tech and the new tech would be a common ground till there. One can at least hope :wink:

As for the GTAV video, such water is achievable if it is being customized for a restricted space, restricted wave amplitudes, water color, as seen in the video. The main issue is to have a generic package which is a jack of all trades, because it is when the performance starts to get hits and decay.

I don’t think it is done because of the engine, there is some art genius there that have it done nicely for that particular usage, it won’t work if have it applied in other conditions as an infinite ocean system, stormy waves, underwater, etc

Sad will be the day we think a water with plastic look is the correct appearance of water and the correct appearance can’t be seen in nature again :frowning:

Slap a ton of bloom on it, and it will look like in GTA 5 :slight_smile:

Ultimate answer to OP’s question.
Is the engine capable? Yes.
Will you get an issue free, high-end looking water from a drag and dropable asset, that is fit for every possible use case in stock engine? No.

No doubt bloom does help with the shiny points and that image is nice enough. The surface still has that matt sort of plastic look im talking about. Id love to see a video comparison to the the first ten seconds of the gtav clip or if there’s a perhaps a project example i can take a look at but like i said i’ve yet to see a similar kind of water.

The ocean and pool example vids above are pretty good and work well enough for that but this gtav style is somewhere in between yet to be created as far as i know. I know it takes a combination of things along with artistic effect but i wasn’t sure if there perhaps was an engine limitation also. So it’s good to know it should be possible at least. Thanks.

I was working on several water assets, one for each purpose, besides the Ocean solution, but since the free asset release on MP I got a bit discouraged on proceeding with it, since not working only on that Ocean solution, but a Sky and some tools. That doesn’t mean that water package will not be launched at all, I just need to give priority to some things.

I will make sure to create a demo and put it for people try and see the feedback on the realism. I just wish I could have some twins to share my workload.

Water has a bit of “metallic” shading to it. That GTA example is taking the reflection and multiplying it in the blend. If you forget to do this, the reflection/specular stays a very light, desaturated color and looks like plastic. Here’s a view of my water looking away from the sun. I don’t have a realtime reflection, just a generic one.

The GTA water has a very high amount of reflection, little amount of waves and almost no visible transparency in deep water.

If you look at some examples from koola this look is absolutely achievable, it just comes down to the settings :slight_smile:

18977287049_f02b16649c_z.jpg

18542824813_97734a963e_z.jpg

On a side note, I believe the ocean examples on page 1 look a looooot more realistic than GTAV.

So far I would argue the best ingame water is probably AC: Origins. It looks a tiny bit less awesome for some unknown reason in Odyssey^^

AAA often rebuild things because current programmer can’t read/understand previous programmer’s work and believe he/she can do better…

So most likely the shader code simply isn’t the same there.

I think the ocean water project has very realistic looking water, with meny different types of ocean’s to choose from, I agree with daedalus51 it also looks better the GTA’s water, the best looking ocean in a game that I’ve seen is in stranded deep and it looks similar to ocean water project only difference being it has more Gerstner Waves.

I think I’ve asked all currently supported UE Ocean asset creators about first VR support and second subtraction volumes (so one can go down into the ship), and I don’t think anyone yet has replied yes to both of those questions, so there’s definitely a gap to fill in the market still.

We’re currently still on Unity with our yacht product configurators due to this, but I plan to check again in a few months.