Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Fluid Dynamics in a Particle Sandbox

Saturday, August 25th, 2007 by Ancil in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 1,581 votes, average: 4.18 out of 5)

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 Game Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(Powder Game Game Screenshots)

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)

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18 Responses to 'Fluid Dynamics in a Particle Sandbox'

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  1. Dritz said,

    on August 25th, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Ya this is a great toy, i’ve played many versions of this type of game, as Im sure you all have, this one is so far superior to the rest, I’ve played thiis one before just on version 2.3 or somin, i like the new add ons

  2. Weasel said,

    on August 25th, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    I could never figure out how to make seeds grow. I make a little pot and a plant and I try watering it and whatever else and it just sits there…

    Of course if I get upset and light everything on fire seeds start sprouting all over the screen suspended in midair… *confused*

  3. ajjeko said,

    on August 25th, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    Excellent toy, what’s the music?

  4. Zack said,

    on August 25th, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    This game is awesome! I think that it is very similar to the Falling Sand Game (, Yet this one has better physics and most of all, wind! Your game reviews get better and better as time goes on! This game deserves a flat 5!

  5. dessgeega said,

    on August 26th, 2007 at 2:04 am

    the music is “lyhytaallosta” by circle.

  6. RageKiller said,

    on August 26th, 2007 at 5:38 am

    This is better than garry’s mod?! I never thought t could be possible.

  7. Kokits said,

    on August 26th, 2007 at 7:30 am

    I think that one of the main reasons that this got better than garry’s mod in the votes is because it’s free.

    It’s still a great game either way.

  8. red_forman said,

    on August 26th, 2007 at 9:08 am

    My personal favorite from this genre was always Burning Sand.

    It doesn’t have the cool wind effect and it is less physical and more “Game of Life” like. But there are more than 30 elements (plus, with a little bit of determination you can design and “program” your own particles) and it can be played offline.

  9. wrestle said,

    on August 26th, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    A neat toy yes but by no stretch of the imagination comparable to Gmod.

  10. RageKiller said,

    on August 27th, 2007 at 5:45 am

    Okay now its third and as usual, GMod is in first. I love this game. It is the only game I ever wanna play online.

  11. Datamid said,

    on August 28th, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    to make seeds grow
    1. use “powder” on flat surface
    2. then use “seed” (so they will not land on each other)
    3. the use more “seed” to make it grow more

  12. Isaac20 said,

    on August 30th, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    1. It’s not that hard to figure out how to make them grow.
    2. You can also pour water on it. (Don’t put too much at any one time)

  13. makeshifter said,

    on September 3rd, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    fun motion just hired a bunch of new people. WHY HAS THE TOPIC FLOW GONE EVEN SLOWER!!!

  14. Kurrus said,

    on September 5th, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Makeshifter is right… :(

  15. Matthew said,

    on September 5th, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    Yeah, sorry about that–it’s been a busy week. I was out for town for a few days (vacation in the mountains), we’re moving to a new office space soon at work, lot of deadlines coming up, etc etc.

    The real problem is I still have to prepare the Flash videos for posting. My goal is to set up a few technically-minded reviewers so they can directly post.

  16. Kurrus said,

    on September 7th, 2007 at 4:30 am

    Woah O.o

    Guess it’s alright then, Matthew :D

  17. on September 13th, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Whoa, nice stuff.

    World of Sand has the general advantage of being easier to use than this, however.

  18. Daft said,

    on August 2nd, 2009 at 4:49 am

    I don’t understand why this game ranks so high… Compared to the other games this feels so lack-luster. Sure it’s an oddity for a few minutes of fun, but it’s not really a game and it just seems completely overrated.

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