Liquid Cubed, The Minecraft Water Engine You Won't See In Minecraft (Yet)
Of all the complaints about mechanics in the base game, most seem to be aimed at water. It doesn't work even remotely 'realistically', does it? Real water doesn't merrily flow seven meters from its source and then run into the ground (no matter what the ground material) before disappearing. Real water doesn't behave the precise same way whether its on sand or dirt or wood, does it? There's no denying, Minecraft water could be better. It could be Liquid Cubed better.
Liquid Cubed is a water simulation project based on the Infiniminer engine. If that means nothing to you, I suggest you go and read this article on Minecraft clones, not because you need to learn about who is copying Minecraft, but because you need to know where Minecraft's roots come from, son.
In Liquid Cubed, water behaves differently on different surfaces. It flows along cobblestone until its flow is so minuscule as to be imperceptible, and it soaks into dirt (if there is sufficient dirt and only a little water). Instead of flowing predictably in a straight line, if given the oppportunity to spread it will 'search' about, finding various paths of least resistance until eventually evaporating back to a level that makes sense.
There are also special blocks that make things more interesting, the most notable of these being springs and pumps.
Pumps can be built into water sources to deliver water up slopes and inclines (otherwise known in the popular vernacular as 'hills' and 'mountains'.
Springs do what they sound like they'd do, they act as water sources. Beware, unlike Minecraft water source blocks that behave entirely statically and only fill the point they occupy plus some lower ground or a relatively small radius around them if they're placed on a flat surface, springs produce water like nobody's business... and keep producing it. It's quite possible to have a single spring flood your world if you're not ready to man the pumps. Building walls around the spring won't help, this isn't Minecraft where water magically becomes contained, in Liquid Cubed the water will simply keep rising, as it should do.
The entire simulation takes place from a floating point of view. You're never tied to the ground, indeed, the ground is nothing to you. You can fly up and down through the planes and hills and valleys you're creating as much as you please.
Practically, Liquid Cubed is a water simulation engine that you can play with much like you play in Minecraft. It's not a game per se, but it is a demonstration of what could potentially be done in cube based games like Minecraft. In fact, the developers made it with integration into Minecraft in mind but at the time of writing the great Notch was reluctant to include it as it would require changing Minecraft from the ground up, which wouldn't only be quite a lot of work, but would probably break a lot of things. It is possible that we'll see future integration, which would be a good thing because Liquid Cubed's water doesn't only 'look' more like water, it also provides scope for a whole new world of water based mechanics that don't yet exist.
It's a free download, so if you're curious about what it might potentially be possible to do with water in Minecraft and similar games, why not give it a whirl?