Fluid dynamics is one of those
features that, to look at it, one can't help but wonder, how on earth
did he do that? I think the answer to that question would be of great
interest to the authors of falling sand game
(Ed's note: We're talking about the
most recent versions of Dwarf Fortress, that use a
three-dimensioned cellular automation system to manipulate water,
much like a multi-plane version of falling sand. In it, each space is
a cube that can contain from 0 to 7 levels of water. A "1"
is the smallest amount of water possible in the game, and a "7"
space is full of water.)
TA: I think the falling sand games are
more impressive than my stuff. I've got kind of a bare-bones
system. The only thing impressive about it is probably that it
runs at all while everything else is going on.
It's really not that
complicated, just a specialized cellular automata.
TA: Neither is mine, he he. Mine isn't
much more than that. Water falls down if it can, over if it can. The
pressure is a bit interesting, I guess, since that isn't a local
operation. There's probably a local model for pressure, but the ones
I've seen wouldn't work for me, I think.
Pressure is the thing I'm personally
interested in seeing explained.
TA: The main problem was at
waterfalls. The water would fall on to the river below, and just
start clumping, forming a pyramid. This is because of the local
behavior. It can't go down, so it goes over.
Ah, I see. So the water is
flowing out, but too slowly.
TA: You get a slope that naturally
forms. And the hard part is that you really can't have any artifacts
at all, it really has to just look like a river. Anything unusual is
bad, it can't do any pre-calcs based on the map, because the fluid
system has to work with water the player throws at it.
The water in the falling sand games
I've played with does something similar when a great amount of water
lands in an area, it tends to sort of pile up and takes quite a while
to settle down to an even level.
TA: This example was in a canyon or a
cave river. If you are out in the open, it'll overflow the banks,
which is also terrible. The cave river is the case where I started,
the water is completely contained, but it still has to look normal. I
did solve the problem, it doesn't do this anymore, but there are
probably a ton of solutions. The way I did it, I can also model
pressure, but it's a bit expensive.
What'd you end up doing?
TA: Let's say you have a U shaped
tube, and the left half and bottom are full. This should not be a
Yes, in the falling sand model,
water won't rise up the right-hand side.
TA: The nice thing about this is
that I'm not dealing with a ton of small particles, but large tiles,
so I can afford some pretty cludgy operations. From the local
perspective, let's say it is the turn of the water at the top left to
move. It can't flow anywhere, and it can't flow down, so it checks
the square below. If it is marked "static," it stops. If it
isn't marked "static", it'll start doing a flood-fill check
downward, through full water spaces, never rising higher than its own
level until it finds an open slot.
If it finds one, it teleports there.
Otherwise it marks the square below as "static" to avoid a
recalc. If the situation ever changes (like water is removed) it can
just remove the static flags. It seems like it would be pricey but
it's really pretty fast, and doesn't account for very much of the lag
on computers having problems. This also happens at waterfalls.
The recalc elimination aspect helps
keep it fast.
TA: Yeah, without the recalc
elimination it would be impossible at the waterfall. Incidentally, I
turned this off for magma on purpose, so it's all clumpy.