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Rich 10-12-2008 05:07 AM

Jim, the resolution that I have it running at is 1280 x 1024,and at 115 fps
thats with every fish swimming on the screen

kona001 10-12-2008 05:12 AM


Originally Posted by Jav400 (Post 105759)
A bezel gap is already planned to be added.

Great news :) Glad to hear I'm not the only one who thought of it.. Would it be able to compensate for all kinds of bezel sizes (as with a slider like I proposed) or will it be fixed to certain bezel sizes to choose from?

rctneil 10-12-2008 05:18 AM

I hope us users will be able to measure using a ruler the distance from the inside edge of one screen, over one bezel, over the gap between the screens, over the second monitor bezel and to the inside edge of the second screen and then input that width into a text input box in the settings and MA3 would figure it all out for you


give the user a monitor selection box and a set of left and right arrows in the settings so you select the monitor you wish to adjust and then press the left and right arrows to move the aquarium on that screen so the fish do not stretch from oen screen to another.

Either of those should work fine in my opinion.



lannp 10-12-2008 08:36 AM


Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 105714)
I also can't understand what might be causing your problem. No one else has reported anything like this (yet). All of my machines work the same way: After hitting F, I can simply stretch the window to any shape I like. If I want it wide I just grab the side and stretch it across the screen. The instant I let go the Window Size numbers show the new size.

Mea Culpa! I didn't let go of the mouse when I stretched or wait for my window to resize to see the wider screen. It works as you say. Sorry about all the commotion I created. I can't wait to see the anemones move. I have a 200 gallon reef tank in the middle of my living room and have a horrible time to maintain it in this economy. I am thinking of turning it off and hide it with two 60" LCD on both sides of my real aquarium. It's cheaper with MA.

Jav400 10-12-2008 08:41 AM

Glad its working for you, and don't worry about the commotion. We may get a bit confused sometimes trying to imagine what someone is talking about, but helping out is what we are here for. :)

Jim Sachs 10-12-2008 12:32 PM

The plan for the bezel gap adjuster is very simple: Normally, the LEFT-RIGHT ARROW keys scroll the whole scene on both monitors. I plan to make it so that if you hold down CTRL (or maybe ALT), while using the ARROW keys, only one monitor would scroll. That way, you can visually set whatever bezel gap you like. The program would remember this setting. There is a limit, of course, because you will run out of room and reach the far end of the tank. When this happens, the scene will be static since there is no more room to auto-scroll.

dlorde 10-12-2008 04:50 PM

Wow - I'm still registered here...

The aquarium looks just like old times - but through the rosy lens of memory... Just beautiful !

The first time I ran it, it blue-screened my old Win XP GeForce 6800 machine - ouch! Then I realised I was on ancient NVidia drivers (from an XP re-install). When I downloaded the latest drivers it was fine.

Thanks for reminding me to update my display drivers :)

tyler84 10-13-2008 01:34 AM

oh my god!!! finally.. i just saw the email.. thanks.. i will try it tonight with my home PC.. i bet it looks gd and runs fine..cheers..:)

Decibel 10-13-2008 06:31 AM

nVidia 9800GTX 512mb
Running Driver set 178.13 (
Vista Ultimate 64bit

Installed and displayed fine across:
1 x 22" 1650 x 1080
1 x 19" 1280 x 1024

Dual Screen mode:
cloned OK
split across both screens OK

basser1 10-13-2008 07:17 AM

This is a pic of my 29 gallon salt water tank.

Tiny Turtle 10-13-2008 07:24 AM


Originally Posted by basser1 (Post 105870)

This is a pic of my 29 gallon salt water tank.

Very cool! :)

feldon34 10-13-2008 09:06 AM

I'm speechless. That's beautiful.

BEParker 10-13-2008 09:15 AM

Great Job, Jim!!! It's BEEYOOTEEFULLLL!

I note one thing, though. Occasionally, when I start MA3, it's very jerky with a slow frame rate. I go out of MA3 and back in and it's operating fine. I would guess it's just the computer (Dell D630 laptop) adjusting resources and priorities, but I can't figure out why it doesn't ALWAYS do it, just sometimes.

Surferminn 10-13-2008 09:19 AM


Originally Posted by basser1 (Post 105870)

This is a pic of my 29 gallon salt water tank.


Jim Sachs 10-13-2008 11:03 AM

basser1 - Beautiful tank!

BEParker - Yes, your computer is adjusting resources. Sometimes more adjustment is needed, as the system clears out RAM and copies it to the Windows Temp file.

morningjoy 10-14-2008 12:24 PM

Wow! It's exciting to have the new Beta! :D

I have a wish list of features, although I'm not sure if these have already been discussed elsewhere. But this is what I would very much like to see:

1. A slider to adjust the blue hue, so I can make it more sky blue or pastel or slightly greenish, instead of just lighter or darker in the basic blue hue.

If you cannot do that, then I would like to be able to make the blue *much* lighter than you currently allow. For my taste, it is still too "primary." I want it to be soft, especially with all the bright colors in the tank. Right now the color contrasts between the foreground and background are too "exciting" and not relaxing enough for me.

2. An ability to turn off the bubbles, which I'm sure is planned.

3. The ability to diminish and/or reduce contrast of, and/or slow down the reflections. They bother my eyes, right now, and they make me feel "nervous" because the movement is too rapid to be relaxing. I want to see some movement of the water, but not this much.

I actually feel slightly dizzy while watching, even once I have disabled the slow pan effect. In fact, I had to close the tank, and look into the distance for a while, in order to regain my equilibrium. So, if this is not fixed in some way, it would be a deal-breaker for me. :sad:

4. I would love to see a Gobi protecting the underground home of his blind companion, which could perhaps be part of a future creature pack. A Gobi on duty has limited movement that is fairly repetitive, so maybe it could be a critter tied to one small location, with a small number of unique actions in random rotation.

5. I would love to see a pair of Clowns, hovering over their chosen "home base" and doing the things Clowns do, instead of swimming all over the tank all the time. Homeless Clowns make me sad, and a Clown should always keep'um smiling. ;) :lol:

Jim Sachs 10-14-2008 12:56 PM

Most of that is planned. Out of your list, the lightplay is the only thing that won't be changed much. It's already running at about half the rate of real water. If you want lightplay with a slow, dreamlike quality, get Dream Aquarium.

Inspector Dryfish 10-14-2008 01:06 PM

I'm at work, running Beta 2 on two DELL 20-inch LCDs (3200x1200 in total). The video card is a PNY nVidia Quadro FX 1300 with 128MB video RAM. Pure HW VP at about 58fps. The computer is a DELL Optiplex GX280; CPU is a P4 at 3GHz; system memory 2GB. Win XP Pro SP2.

MA 3 looks lovely. I haven't seen any glitches.

After the ooooos and aaaahhhs settle down, the comments from co-workers are (in order of occurrence and frequency):

1) The fish split and stretch between screens (the bezel thing).

2) That anemone isn't moving. Shouldn't some of those corals move, too?

I know you've said that the 3D objects will be animated "soon", and that a bezel adjustment will be added at some point - I just wanted to highlight the point that the bezel thing seems be one of the first noticed flaws, according to all the people who come by my desk anyway. I doubt that I was first to suggest it, but I brought it up at least three years ago - I think you still permitted anonymous posting in those days (unless I'm thinking of DA's forums). Having people point it out as a flaw kinda goes with providing the ability to span across multiple screens. As soon as you fix it, all the critical eyes will alight on something else. Oh well.

In the next few days, I'll be trying the beta on my other PC (DELL T5400 workstation), which will use the same two monitors driven by an nVidia Quadro FX 570 with 256MB of video RAM. Win XP Pro x64. If I see any problems, I'll report 'em. Otherwise, assume it works at least as well as on the current config.

I wouldn't bother paying for a Mac version, only because my ancient laptop is... well... ancient, and doesn't have the guts - it used to break out into a sweat (and frantically high fan speed) when I ran the old MA on it.

I would happily pay for a Linux version. These days, I run Linux at least as much as Windoze. Yeah, I know. DirectX...
I haven't used Wine in years, but somebody in another thread seems to be getting at least some joy out of it (with the MA 3 beta), so maybe I'll give it a whirl.

At the very least, I'll be buying the upgrade from my 2.6 for Windows as soon as 3.0 comes out for real.

Best regards,

- Kevin

enigma63941 10-14-2008 05:00 PM

Nice job Jim! The 3d effect over the previous version is fantastic.

MY wish list:
1.Turn of the scrolling and have the option to turn on the old lighting cycle.
2. A fish hiding or going inside and out of what looks like a little cave on the bottom left of the aquarium.
3.Probably going to be corrected, just bringing it up. Not showing the frames per second every time the program launches.
4.Spruce up the interface. Not the mechanics just the graphics. Looks a little "dull" :D
5.Not really important...shorten the load time.

Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit service pack 1, 2.8 GHZ AMD 64 X2 Dual
4.00 Gb RAM
Nvidia Geforce 8600 GT 512mb Drvier 7.15

The aquarium has worked fine at 111fps at 1440x990 with no problems so far...

feldon34 10-14-2008 07:17 PM

I'm not Jim, but...

1a. The scrolling can be turned off by pressing P. Jim is adding an undocumented feature to stop the scrolling.
1b. The old lighting cycle is impossible as the lighting in the old program was actual lights. The new lighting is largely based on shaders. I'm sure Jim is going to make some more improvements. Specifically I know he wants to provide a full range of colors beyond the current blue-to-green.

4. The interface was developed by Jim. He doesn't like spending any more time on the interface than he has to. He prefers working on the artwork. ;) Still, I do miss what we had before (not the fish picker so much, but the overall settings panel).

5. Hmm. The load time varies a lot. On the HTPC we built for our new HDTV, the MA3 logo barely comes up before it fades into the Aquarium. Have to say MA3 looks awesome at 65". :)

troyb 10-14-2008 07:33 PM

mr.sachs or Jim which ever one you prefer your fish tank is with out a doubt the best on the planet I like so much I am going to buy a 2ed key code so I can run it on my computer in the kitchen again great work thank you

Bectile 10-14-2008 07:39 PM

Running great
I excitedly posted my praise in the other topic, and then I saw this topic so I wanted to reiterate my awe at this program.

It runs flawlessly on my Windows XP system, even better than MA2 does (I have a flicker I can't get rid of, after much adjusting). MA3 is sooo smooth and vibrant!

Thanks again! I can't wait to see the development continue!


Jim Sachs 10-14-2008 07:43 PM

troyb - You are welcome to run it on all the computers in your house with a single Key Code.

Rebecca - Thanks.

troyb 10-14-2008 08:09 PM

well thank you very much

Tiny Turtle 10-15-2008 12:00 AM

Jim has always allowed users to install the aquarium on all their computers using a single keycode and I have no reason to suspect it wouldn't be the same with MA3.

clifdene 10-15-2008 02:09 AM

Morningjoy. If you find the reflections annoying I wonder how people with epilepsy will react to them. I do not like them either.

rctneil 10-15-2008 05:49 AM

Hey Jim,
Will the Bezel gap Adjuster be in beta 3 or not? and will a feature like "Automatic Lights" from 2.6 be present in 3.0 as that will stop burn in around that part of the screen when on dual setups when the tank cannot scroll?

jleslie 10-15-2008 08:35 AM

On the bezel front - presumably any vertical gap will come for free from Windows? (My second monitor is below and to the right of my main one - Microsoft OneNote tends to live there for note taking.)

Jim Sachs 10-15-2008 02:58 PM

The lightplay will stay. It's the only thing which gives the impression of being under water.

I'll try to put the bezel gap adjuster in Beta 3.

The new lighting scheme is much more difficult, will take a little longer. MA3 has almost nothing in common with previous versions. Virtually every line of code is different. Lighting effects were easy before, because there were "lights". You would position them in your 3D world, set the color, intensity, direction, etc., and they would light up your objects. Now I'm doing everything with Shaders, which took me years to understand (even a little). They are ultimately much more powerful than a lighting scheme, but incredibly hard to use.

LeeC22 10-16-2008 05:36 PM

Well I have just come back from Florida again and a walk around Seaworld was getting the inspiration going. Just watching the lighting and the motion just made me want to re-create that feeling on the PC. There is something so surreal and beautiful to underwater scenes that above water just can't recreate.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find an email in my inbox about MA3 beta being available. So I downloaded and installed and sat for a while watching. Now I have to remember that this is only a Beta release and that the things I mention here are probably not relevant to the final version. That being said though, what never gets said, get presumed unnoticed, so I would rather say something wrongly than let it go unnoticed. So any corrections to my observations are welcomed and understood.

I think the biggest thing that struck me is that the background has gone 3D but it doesn't really look like it. I think the problem is that because your viewpoint remains parallel to the lateral motion, the only real 3D effect is the parallax between layers. The problem I suspect is that without being able to change the direction you are viewing the aquarium from, you will always see things directly from the front, which kind of forces a 2D representation. Could the answer be to move the viewing position and the focal point independantly so that you can create a perspective shift to enhance the 3D effect? It would be like looking left and right rather than moving left and right.

The other thing I noticed and it was something I was thinking about again tonight, was the movement of the fish. I was sat thinking about food and particle motion and how slowly it all moves (not in MA, in my mental representation of underwater), when I thought, "is the density of the water being taken into account as a damper on the fish's movement in MA?". By that I mean, is any acceleration in a particular direction subject to the damping effect of a more dense environment? Fish move forward easily because of the smaller surface area of the front of the fish (I presume it's why they are the shape they are) but they move sideways with difficulty as there is a larger surface area to push against the water. In MA, they seem to move in all directions with equal ease, which is what got me thinking.

On a final note, I will offer Kudos to you Jim for breaking through the shader barrier. :TU: I keep looking at them and stressing but I know that ultimately, it is my next step I have to overcome. It's firmly in the "to do tomorrow" box at the moment and you know the saying about "tomorrow" :D

It's the one thing that bugs me about being an artist who moved to programming, it's the artistic effects, that programmers find easiest, that we find hardest to grasp... there's something very unfair there.

Then again, I suppose it is easier than calculating the caustics caused by sunlight through the surface of water :eek:

Anyway, good luck and I look forward to future versions of MA3.

Jim Sachs 10-16-2008 05:59 PM

All these were covered in other threads, but I'll just mention again that the camera angle can never change - it must remain exactly perpendicular to the tank as it pans (dollies) right and left. With even the slightest angle change, literally thousands of holes and gaps become visible in the objects. Allowing the camera to change angles would mean creating objects which look perfect from many different directions. Even if this were possible at all, it would increase the work by at least tenfold, and probably more. So then we are looking at 20 years to do the background instead of two.

If you want more of a 3D effect, use the LEFT-RIGHT ARROW keys to scroll faster. These are what most people reach for as soon as the Aquarium starts.

LeeC22 10-16-2008 08:24 PM


Originally Posted by Jim Sachs (Post 106225)
All these were covered in other threads, but I'll just mention again that the camera angle can never change - it must remain exactly perpendicular to the tank as it pans (dollies) right and left. With even the slightest angle change, literally thousands of holes and gaps become visible in the objects. Allowing the camera to change angles would mean creating objects which look perfect from many different directions. Even if this were possible at all, it would increase the work by at least tenfold, and probably more. So then we are looking at 20 years to do the background instead of two.

:nag: Why do your models have so many holes and gaps in them? Isn't it supposed to look perfect from different directions, hence it being 3D and not 2D?

Is it not worth paying a 3D artist to provide you with a full 3D background? $1000 or so for a couple of weeks work would get you a spot on 3D background I would have thought. I'd pay an extra $10 for it, if it was in there.

In fact, if I wasn't so busy, I'd do it for you for free, as it is something that I think would really add to the programme. I think any artist would be proud to have their name associated with MA, you would probably get a number of offers to do this for you for free, if you asked.

I must say (and you probably think me out of turn for saying so), we've been doing this game development thing for the about same length of time Jim and I really am quite surprised at some of what you have written there.

This is your programme, not mine though, I'm sorry if anything I have said is taken as offense, it wasn't meant that way.

Jim Sachs 10-16-2008 09:03 PM

Ha, ha - no offense taken. If you could pay a 3D artist $1000 to create a realistic 3D background for an aquarium, every person in the world who had $1000 would have an Aquarium program on the market. Actually, a lot of copycats have come and gone in the 8 years since I came out with MA1, yet it remains one of the most successful computer programs of all time. It's been used in over two dozen TV shows and movies (Copycats - zero.), as well many print ads for various products. CompUSA empoyees told me that it sold more monitors and video cards than any other tool they had. At its peak a couple of years ago, it was on more screens throughout the world than anything except the Windows startup screen.

And that's just the old low-res, 2D version. The new 3D background has taken me two years (plus years of planning before that). There's a reason behind virtually everything you see in the tank. There's a cave to house a Moray eel or octopus, there are clams and delicate corals which will open and close with the touch of a fish. There's a flat "playground" for invertabrates and fish which bury themselves in the sand. There are 10 different places you'll be able to place bubble columns. There's a sea anemone which will be home to a clownfish.

So, if you believe you can create a 3D environment that can match this one, I strongly suggest that you drop whatever you are doing and get to it!

feldon34 10-16-2008 09:44 PM

Lee, all I can say is there are a lot of generalizations, assumptions, and inaccuracies floating around.

Creating a completely realistic, believable environment, such as a jungle, a forest, the ocean, or a coral fishtank which is fully 3D and not limited in some way with camera and texture tricks is something that is only happening on the latest high end hardware (XBox 360 or nVidia 8800+) in the last couple of years. Marine Aquarium 3 has to run on a broad spectrum of hardware and not take 45 seconds to a minute to load.

Marine Aquarium 3 is a compromise only in that the artwork is built in layers which look great from a certain viewpoint. Imagine trying to photograph a sea anemone in such a way that you can wrap a 3D object and view it from all angles. It would require hundreds of photos and thousands of man hours to cut out, stitch together, and process all the photos to have the same lighting and color grading to all match each other. Then you have to map it onto an object with tens of thousands of polygons.

We are just now starting to see believable screen savers that capture an ecosystem and look decent. The best examples I can think of are Lagoon and the new Dutch Windmills from . I can actually suspend belief when watching them and really enjoy them. But they are not displaying items with hundreds of different angular objects with tiny details. They are displaying fairly large items which are textured better than the competition.

Please don't throw around a comment like a good background for the Aquarium would be "$1000 work" when entire development teams with tens of thousands of dollars worth of budget have tried and failed.

PFM 10-17-2008 08:09 AM


Awesome! Your attention to detail is amazing. Thanks for all your hard work. I will look forward to seeing the upcoming features as they are unveiled. (I can't believe I used to think flying toasters were cool).

Jav400 10-17-2008 08:15 AM

ROFL, I remember those. :)

kona001 10-17-2008 09:49 PM


Originally Posted by PFM (Post 106259)

Awesome! Your attention to detail is amazing. Thanks for all your hard work. I will look forward to seeing the upcoming features as they are unveiled. (I can't believe I used to think flying toasters were cool).

Still my old-time favorite at the office was Johnny Castaway. :) However nothing is ever going to beat Sachs Marine Aquarium, especially after Jim gets all the animations for the 3D background done :)

bigbass22 10-17-2008 11:00 PM

Hi Jim
An absolutely superb achievment. As someone who has been with you since the days of the .99's the leap from 2.6 to 3.0(Beta) is breathtaking! Your patience, politeness are a model for others to follow.
Now for a few questions/comments.
I understand that the background coral will come alive in the weeks/months to follow. Would it be possible to have a section similar to Fish Settings for the coral. Personally I think it would be great to have a name and location for each species of coral. This would be sort of like equal billing for coral. Since the coral will be as alive as the fish I think it would be a good idea.
I also notice that the fish swim near the cave but never enter into it. Will they be allowed to in later versions?
They also swim near the coral but never peck at it. Again will this change in later versions?
Thanks again
Jim Harris
Toronto, Canada

Jim Sachs 10-18-2008 01:37 AM

I'm not quite sure what you mean by settings for the coral. If you mean change the locations for background items, then no - everything fits together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Fish will eventually be able to enter the cave.

They will also peck at the coral.

Surferminn 10-18-2008 05:01 AM

LeeC22 -- Thank you for posting your frank comments above prompting Jim and Morgan's responses giving me more understanding of what it takes to create one of these things. To me there are currently varying levels or degrees of 3D effects in MA3. Some parts distinctly look more 3D than others. But as you said, this is a work in progress not yet final and more is coming.

I have to say that one has to slow down and watch how the scrolling contributes to the 3D effect by slowly opening up different views and angles of the corals which is a good and healthy thing I think (to slow down) in this fast track world.

Thank you for taking the time to create and put this out here for us to enjoy, Jim, amidst your many other concurrent projects. Not to mention for such reasonable price too. In my opinion there is a level of quality in your work that closely reflects the real thing which I have still not yet seen met or match by others. This is one of the advantage I guess of working as an individual for yourself on a project, that you can take the time it take to produce such quality. Keep up the good work. :TU:

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