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Games have always had a certain obsession with water. Water is notoriously difficult to model, so game designers have sought all sorts of tricks to make it look more realistic. Early attempts were often simple flat planes, with a change of the color palette (and sound effects) to indicate when the player was submerged. Later, pre-made looped animations could create impressive waterfalls or rivers, but these failed to respond believably when the player or another object interrupted the flow. Even modern games like Skyrim use different methods to make the water look and feel realistic with varying degrees of success; advanced mathematics determine how the liquid surface reflects light, which looks stunning, but most bodies of water are still flat planes with canned wave animations. Water that actually behaves realistically is virtually unheard of in games.
Things are moving ever forwards, of course. From Dust has some pretty cool water and lava physics, and fancy new graphics tech can render some fantastic-looking water in real time, although it’s not in any games yet. But while realistic water in a three-dimensional environment may still be in the early stages, some two-dimensional games already offer real fluid dynamics. Vessel is such a game.