Hey, everyone. I'm going to provide a detailed review of the recently released v10.1 preview, but the review will not only focus only on features added or changed since v10.0--there has been a profound lack of bug reports and bugs are accumulating rapidly. Hopefully Cody will benefit from this document because SEUS v10.1, while having progressed greatly from its beginnings, is just not quite as impressive as potentially possible.
Please note that this is a review of the public release--I do not have access to development versions and as such, they will not be referenced.
1. Ambient Occlusion (Smooth Lighting)
Minecraft, by default, has its own basic form of ambient occlusion which, in the video settings control panel, is referred to as "Smooth Lighting." If you enable smooth lighting ('Minimum' or 'Maximum'), disable SEUS, and examine the ground underneath a tree during the day, for example, you will see a shadow emanating from the base of the tree and fading as it approaches sunlight. If you look at the corner in which the vertexes of 3 blocks meet, you will also see a faint shadow. These shadows, while unrealistic to a certain degree, play a VERY important role.
Take a careful look at the following images, focusing your attention on the areas in which blocks meet.
Stare at the part of the base of the tree in the SEUS image that is exposed to light. Imagine that in this image, the tree is floating 1 inch above the ground. This is easy to do because there is no adjacent shadow indicating that the tree is rooted into the ground. If not for the low resolution of the textures (resulting in pixelation), it would be possible to imagine that the tree is floating any amount of space above the ground--even a foot. Now imagine that the same tree in the non-SEUS image is floating 1 inch above the ground. You'll find that it is very difficult to do because the shadow, even though it is faint, roots the tree into the ground--there is no gap between the tree and the shadow and through experience, we have learned that this must mean that the two objects (the tree and the ground) are adjacent.
In the following SEUS image, imagine that each row of blocks is floating 1 inch above the one below it. Then try the same for the non-SEUS image.
SEUS does not support Minecraft's default smooth lighting, nor does it offer a realistic alternative. This greatly hinders realism and immersion.
2. Shadow Clarity/Contrast
SEUS shadow definition and contrast (for shadows cast by sunlight) have been vastly improved from v10.0 to v10.1. Shimmering has been reduced and shadows appear to be very natural, not drawing attention away from the desired view or the task at hand.
This element of the review is determined while viewing shadows with the following shader settings:
Unforunately, there are still some "glitch" shadows that appear as random polygons along the ground outdoors and flash about, having no object of origin or explanation for entropy. Often, shadows appear unable to decide where they want to be and jump about at large angles (not just a simple shimmer which can be disregarded).
3. Reflections: Part I (Water)
This is a rather easily explained bug, but only blocks within your vision may be reflected in water. If, for example, you are standing at a short distance away from a lighthouse and you look at the water underneath it, the reflection of the lighthouse will only exist if the lighthouse is also in your vision. It is a rather small bug, but I had first experienced it in a room with many lights in the ceiling and a massive pool of water in the center of the room. The lights were not reflected in the water at all and it was impossible to have both the lights and the water in vision simultaneously, thus the water was very dark and unrealistic.
The following images showcase this bug nicely--despite us knowing that the trees are on the island, the reflection of the trees disappears as we look down.
NOTE: This bug may be a result of some performance enhancements implemented by Cody.
Additionally, at certain angles and in certain lighting, water can take on a very mirror/glass-looking appearance. This is most obvious when viewing fountains or streams of water in which the altitude of the surface of the water changes because the surface of the water on top will appear starkly different from the surface of the water on the sides. Most detrimental, however, is the fact that the sides of a column or block of water show extremely faint and hardly visible signs of flowing, increasing the likelyhood that one might mistake a column of water for glass. The combination of these issues greatly impacts realism and immersion. The following image showcases the latter issue.
4. Reflections: Part II (Ice)
The reflections of objects on ice are identical to the reflections of objects on water. As the ice is not moving and does not contain waves in motion, reflections should not be distorted the same way they are on water. Perhaps a static blurring effect would be more realistic, but I'm unsure. Either way, this is certainly a bug, as ice is static.
The following image contains a reflection of the sun split between water and ice. While I cannot demonstrate the movement of the reflection on ice in a still image, you can see the shimmer that is constant between the two reflections.
5. Lighting: Part I (Artificial Lighting)
Glowstone is a golden/yellow block, thus having SEUS shaders force glowstone to offer a golden/yellow light would seem appropriate, but it creates a very unnatural environment under certain conditions, causing the surrounding area to be vastly discolored and appear orange. While glowstone may seem beautiful and perfectly natural in some circumstances, let's examine the following images of a mall to see where glowstone's light might be quite unnatural and undesirable.
I don't think I need to comment much further here. When you're at the mall at night, is everything horribly orange/yellow? (This build was created without SEUS and using a texture pack that makes glowstone look like a smooth, bluish fluorescent light, thus it looks natural without shaders.) Overall, the yellow light seems out of place--even slightly during the day. Imagine using glowstone as a ceiling light. While without SEUS, that would be perfectly acceptable, with SEUS, the yellow light is pervasive throughout the room, creating a very unsightly effect. This effect would persist throughout the day if there is no sunlight reaching the room.
NOTE: I am disregarding the fact that the illumination of glowstone is slightly diminished from SEUS v10.0 Ultra DOF to SEUS v10.1 Preview 1 because the v10.1 preview is "Standard" rather than "Ultra," but the fact is still true.
6. Lighting: Part II (Eye Adjustment & Color Saturation)
As my character moves from a shaded area into the sun, the brightness is lessened (and vice versa). This creates a very realistic effect and distinguishes between the power of the sun versus the power of an artificial light. This has been a feature prior to v10.1, but the level of realism due to this excellent feature is worthy of mention.
Unfortunately, however, regardless of which setting you are in (indoors looking outside, outside looking indoors, etc.), the amount of color saturation caused by the extremely hightened amount of light coming from the sun is extreme. The colors become unrealistically saturated and take on a temperature property, similar to glowstone, that makes them appear to be hot just due to the brightness and contrast alone. The sun's light creates a massive white glow underneath the sun itself and that, too, also looks unbearably bright, oversaturated, and much too large to be realistic.
1. On a server with multiworld support, alternate worlds (different from the main world) have severe day/night lighting issues. The sun shines through blocks when it is behind or underneath them, the ground may be dark while the sky is light, and the sky may be light while the ground is dark. This may not be fixable.
2. Sign text is always white. Colored text flashes profusely. Signs are near unreadable unless you have a resource pack with dark signs.
Thank you for reading. Please provide feedback by replying here. I will reply to this post as I document more concerns.