So I'm spending this week doing research and doing some tool tests as well as a small bit of pre-jam asset creation.
A few things to share with everyone else.
If you're using Unity and want a neato water effect, use a heat distortion shader. This one here is free: http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/50132-Heat-Distortion
Instead of rewriting it to be a post-pro effect (I'm shaderlab and cg illiterate), I just did the simple thing and put it on a plane that sits in front of the camera.
It does have some caveats. It only seems to work properly in Deferred rendering mode. Mind you it also requires Unity pro.
If you want some nifty sub surface scattering / translucency tricks (a must for deep sea creatures as I'm making), you can get some expensive ($$ and computationally) shaders on the asset store. But this one here is also free and seems to work pretty well. http://www.farfarer.com/blog/2012/09/11 ... r-unity3d/
If you want to do caustics, simply write a real time ray tracing engine that refracts light through simulated waves on the ocean surface.
No, don't do that. =p Make some neato caustic textures with this tool : http://www.dualheights.se/caustics/
- It only costs if you use it commercially. Free version will do. Then use the texture with a projector component, or use it as a cookie with a light source component.
If I stumble on more cool tricks and tools, I'll share them here.