The user can interact with (e.g. place and remove) particles on a canvas which can interact with other particles in various ways, which can lead to complex emergent behaviour. As sandbox games, they generally have an emphasis on free-form gameplay, relaxed rules, and minimal goals.
Despite the name, falling-sand games typically contain a multitude of materials besides sand, often called "elements".
This section possibly contains original research. (January 2021)
|Falling sand game||2005||Java||Also called "Hell of Sand" or "World of sand". May be the first game of its type|
|wxSand||2006||Windows||The first standalone version|
|Powder Game||2007||Java, HTML5, Android, iOS||Multi-platform with liquid simulation|
|This is Sand||2008||Flash||Added changing the colour of the sand|
|The Powder Toy||2010||Windows, Linux, OS X, Android||Has liquid simulation and Newtonian gravity|
|Powder Game 2||2011||HTML5||Sequel to Powder Game, rewritten to include many new elements|
|The Sandbox||2012||Flash, Windows, Android, iOS||A series of games, including some 3D versions|
|Sandspiel||2019||HTML5||Popular web-based version|
|Noita||2020||Windows||A hybrid of "falling sand" style game with a Roguelike|
The first known popular example in the "falling-sand" genre was a web-based Java applet on the Japanese Dofi-Blog in 2005 which was later expanded and rehosted as the "Falling sand game", which kick-started the genre as a trend and gave it its name.
The genre is not limited to free play canvas-style games; games such as the Powder Game contain additional mechanics, such as pressure based fluid simulation allowing for example water equalisation, and RPG elements such as controllable characters.
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