The water reflection code renders a reflection based on a flat plane. This limitation comes from the mathematics of the algorithm - a compromise to have water reflections that run at "real-time" speeds. (Real-time is graphics nerd speak for 20-30 fps and not 1-2 fps.)
As it turns out, the Earth is not flat. So we can pick up a number of reflection "bugs", due to the limits of the approximation we are using:
- Over very large distances, the flat plane is a bad approximation of a water surface. The flat plane simply can't be "right" everywhere for any large scene. This isn't a bug, it's a ceiling on our maximum quality - a design constraint.
- If we have two water surfaces at different elevations (e.g. a river with a dam) we can't have our reflection plane match both. So some scenes may have wrong reflections with multi-level water. This too is a design constraint.
- If our reflection plane is at the wrong height or the wrong slope, it is going to produce really weird results. The reflection plane being in the wrong place despite a small scene with one level of water - that'd be a bug.
- There is an art to positioning the plane - if we have a large scene (so the round earth means there is no one perfect plane) some locations of the plane will look better than others.
Finally, if the scenery mesh contains slanted water, we're really going to be hosed - almost by definition if X-Plane uses a sane water reflection plane, it won't be sloped, and thus this sloped water is going to be unaligned with the reflection plane and produce something that looks really funky.
So my work on 950 is aimed at having X-Plane be less easily fooled by complex and incorrect scenes less often. (Note that X-Plane can't tell the difference between Norway, where we really have water at multiple elevations, and bad input data to MeshTool.)
Even with these fixes, sloped water is still going to look pretty strange (because it is strange). And even with these fixes, multi-level water will still have its reflections approximated at best. But hopefully the visuals from the sim will be less jittery while flying over tricky DSFs.
I'm hoping we'll have a beta 2 in the next week or two.