I've been performing a little bit of research in my spare time on ways to increase the interactivity of environments in a networked game or simulation.
One of my areas of research is fluid-dynamics and whether it would be possible to synchronize it over the network. I believe the short answer to that is - Yes of course you can. But there will obviously be trade-offs as there are with any network synchronization problem.
I was recently playing Battlefield 4 and a number of their maps have playable ocean areas with fully functional waves large enough to obscure entire boats during gameplay. It seems to work quite well as well.
My assumption here is that the ocean simulation is completely offline and each client performs synchronization with the server during initialization. This would allow all clients to run the exact same ocean simulation that appears to be dynamic but is in fact the same offline simulation every time.
Interaction with the ocean simulation appears to be only superficial with local splash/wave depression. I assume that is entirely local to the client and not synchronized.
My question here is:
Would the above be an appropriate way to synchronize fluid simulation over a networked game? If not, what would you suggest?