John Lin's physics sandbox returns with the best water I've ever seen

I'm increasingly convinced that the next big thing in games tech isn't ray-traced puddles or eye-watering 8K displays, but voxels. Laugh all you want, but go ahead and look at John Lin's captivating water up there and tell me I'm wrong, I dare you.

Malindy Hetfield first spotted Lin's lush voxel forests for us last November. Since then, your man's been plugging away at the project, showing off clouds of butterflies and moody moonlit pups. But it's this week's update that really blew me away, with a dive into some absolutely staggering water physics.

We've come a hell of a long way since Minecraft's slow-moving cubes, readers. Lin's fluids flow and splash and spray remarkably, refracting light and filling spaces just as you'd expect. Lin goes into great technical detail in the YouTube description, explaining that the water is fully volumetric to act like a real fluid—and while it currently only interacts with terrain, he hopes to soon have it splashing around players and objects.

An interesting aside is that, in this video, all the water is spawned from limitless faucets—meaning that the world will eventually submerge itself completely. Lin's next problem seems to be the simple job of, well, implementing a full evaporation and rainfall cycle to refill lakes and ponds.

While Lin still has no concrete plans for the project, he does hope to eventually turn it into a game. That's probably okay, considering destruction sandbox Teardown similarly started as a series of neat voxel physics clips on Twitter before fully forming as a smashing heist game. 

Watching Lin's video, all I could think about was a version of Teardown that included these magical fluids—thwacking open storage tanks to put out fires or wash debris off the pavement. Lin's work already has some cracking demolition credits of its own, too. Toss in Fugl's ability to turn you into a flying monkey, and I reckon you've got yourself a perfect game.

You can keep up with Lin's work over on his Twitter or YouTube channel, where I'm sure it'll eventually wrangle itself into some kind of game.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.