First update from recently announced mod Freedom for Mars follows. As you know Chaser also excelled at well done water surface which looked very realistic in his time. I remember that for the first time in my gaming history I considered the water real. I thought to be wet to the skin after jumping into it.
Integral parts of this effect are of course surrounding environment reflections, without them the water surfaces can’t be that convincing. The game uses cubemaps (textures consisting of six consequent images), together they create static scene which can be described as „panoramic“. This scene is then projected onto water surface or other shiny material, which creates the illusion of surrounding environment reflection.
This method seems quite simple but it’s easier said than done. Development version of Chaser was (reputedly) able to create cubemaps during play as easy as simple screenshots. In final version (the version sold on the market) this function is disabled though. This fact has complicated my intention during mod creation because I wanted to create my own environment reflections on several places. Unfortunately simple screenshots aren’t enough to create well-rounded cubemap because the six pictures couldn‘t be taken with required angle and depth in order to be properly connected to each other in one cubemap.
Fortunately now I can proudly state that I have been able to find the workaround to create cubemaps, although in a more complicated way due to developer utility absence. The workaround places the camera with simple script in required place in map. The script provides the right angle of the camera while focusing to all six directions. Thanks to modified field of view the wider shot is taken so the screenshots contain depth sufficient enough to see all required details. Then the screenshots are trimmed to right resolution and combined to final texture.
The result is perfect cubemap with the same quality as the original cubemaps are. You can look forward to see realistically created water surfaces and other shiny material reflections corresponding to surrounding environment in Freedom for Mars. You can see it on two new screenshots with part of flooded underground in rebel base. The final scene looks really good, in my point of view. Screenshots are here: