Funding is now closed for Phases 1 and 2 of this project.
Questions about the Ocean Sim tool
What is the Ocean Sim?
The Ocean Sim is essentially a custom procedural texture developed for Blender 2.4x for use during the production of the Lighthouse (2008) short film by Promotion Studios (now Red Cartel Studios). The code for the texture was based on the Houdini Ocean Toolkit codebase, and Promotion Studios paid a developer (Hamed Zaghaghi) to port the code over to a Blender 2.4x branch for use on their production.
Matt Ebb, who is also a prominent Blender developer, was working at Promotion Studios at the time and assisted on the integration of this custom tool into a Blender 2.4x branch for use in the studio. Following the end of production on Lighthouse, Matt and Promotion graciously released this 2.4x branch to the community for free usage. A number of various Blender 2.4x versions were compiled for Linux, and Windows with the Ocean Sim patch applied, and were made available on Graphicall.org. The Ocean Sim patch did receive a small amount of attention from Blender developers, but it never made it to trunk, and development trailed off over a year ago (see patch history - registration required to view).
Why is it useful?
It is useful because it generates a procedural noise pattern used for the ocean mesh heightmap that cannot be duplicated with any standard Blender procedural texture.
More specifically it uses the FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) algorithm to calculate the various wave frequencies (as mentioned by Jerry Tessendoorf's white paper on ocean simulation.)
Who created it?
The original code came from the Houdini Ocean Toolkit codebase that was released as opensource. The Blender version was created by Hamed Zaghaghi under contract to Promotion Studio with integration assistance by Matt Ebb.
Why did it not already make it to trunk in Blender 2.4x, and why is it not already in Blender 2.5?
The reason for this is not completely clear to me, however there seems to have never been enough of a response from the blender community to make it a priority.
Is this the best solution for creating oceans with Blender?
No, probably not, but it is the best ocean tool that Blender has had to date. The time and effort required to make something better is quite large, and also rather unknown, so it's hard to put a dollar figure on it. The simple fact is that this is a useful tool that we lost access to because of the 2.4 to 2.5 codebase conversion for Blender.