If a “game” is defined as a simulation that gives the player a goal to work toward and a “toy” as one that just gives the player stuff to tinker around with, DAN-BALL’s Powder Game is definitely the latter. Specifically, one of the “sandbox” variety. I mean that literally, as it’s a clear descendent of d_of_i’s World of Sand browser game. What Powder Game, also playable in a browser, adds to the formula is fluid dynamics.
A Crowded Sandbox
This sandbox contains a variety of elements which the player can scatter at a mouse-click. Ice, water, fire, the titular “powder” (which serves as the sand). The heart of Powder Game is the way these elements interact. Water that touches ice will freeze. Ice that touches fire will melt. Drop a seed onto some powder and a plant will sprout. Water the plant and it will grow. Touch a flame to it and it will catch fire and burn.
The other key element that defines Powder Game is wind. Powder stacks in neat piles, but a click of the mouse (a right click by default, but this can be changed) sends it spiralling into the air. Currents coalesce, rub against each other, create eddies in the air. Fire creates wind, as does exploding gunpowder. Wind turns ice into snow, creates rivers of particles in the air. When the background effect is set to “BG-shade,” it becomes entrancing to watch.
Just Add Water
Powder Game is not for players looking for direction. To get the most out of Powder Game, one has to be comfortable creating one’s own entertainment. Players who are willing to tinker will find a lot to tinker with. Here are some things to try: create a fountain by positioning fans over a pool of water. Make a sculpture with ice and bubbles (which turn into whatever they touch). Build an arena and populate it with fighters - tiny pixel people who jump and flip around, trying to kick each other. Set the background effect to “BG-shade” and paint a curtain of SuperBalls.
Powder For All
Powder Game is Java-built and playable in a web browser. It’s neat to tinker with, mesmerizing to watch, and totally free. Similiar and similiarly worth playing is DAN-BALL’s earlier project, Liquid Webtoy - one of a surprisingly few webtoys to simulate the phenomenon of precipitation.
Play Powder Game (Java Required)