Sorry if I get things wrong. I'm still very new to Blender.
I am liking the "Ocean" modifier, but I've noticed that subdividing my meshes for displacement takes up a lot of CPU power. So I've been trying to experiment with the "Generate Normals" feature to create a normal-map and apply that to my mesh instead.
However, it doesn't seem like Blender detects this as a normal map, but instead as a bump map. In particular, the GUI has "Bump Mapping" icons available, which seems wrong to me.
See this picture for example.
So it looks like the ocean "displacement" texture is a bump-map, at least... the GUI seems to think its a bump map. But by my eyes, the preview looks like a normal map (or at least, has more than just "green" colors, so it probably is a normal map).
I'm relatively new to this however, so maybe I'm just not understanding things. As it is, my grid / plane has a very good ocean shape to it when I increase the number of subdivisions. However, I'd ideally prefer the "generated normals" instead, because normals are MUCH faster to render... and the "ocean" part of my real project is kind of a background-thing, so I'd rather not generate a high-poly mesh to smooth this stuff out.
Look at this sad render! Its so flat! I think it is clear that the normals are either not being generated properly, or are not being applied properly. EDIT: I've applied the "smooth" property to edges / faces / verticies. While things have smoothed out, it still seems like the normals aren't being generated properly, and instead Blender seems to be interpreting the data as a bump-map instead of a normal-map.
If it matters, I'm using "Blender Internal" for now. Most tutorials seem to focus on cycles, but My current project is all "Blender Internals" and I'd hate to switch to cycles all of a sudden.
EDIT: Blend File Available.