Falling sand game on an FPGA

This falling sand game runs on a field-programmable gate array. The Altera Cyclone II resides at the heart of that development board, running the game which was written in Verilog. [Skyler Schneider] modeled his project after a Java version of the game called Pyro Sand Game. He treats each pixel of the 640×480 VGA screen as its own cell, following a set of rules to change the cells around it. This is very similar to Conway’s Game of Life, except that there are different categories of cells that behave uniquely (oil, water, plant, fire, etc.) and gravity is a key factor. Of particular interest to us were the rules for each cell, and the method [Skyler] used to feed and sync the VGA output. After the break you can see his demonstration videos, which walk through all of the features including the Troll button.

[Thanks Andrew]


  1. Stulander says:

    This is cool, just like this physics game:


  2. BitMage says:

    I sometimes feel bad for only these kinds of comments, but shouldn’t the title of this article be “Falling sand game on an FPGA”? and not “and”?

  3. matt says:

    My one weakness… the falling sand game! Put this thing in an enclosure with a touch screen and I’d buy one in an instant.

  4. Mario says:

    Very Nice, congrats!!

  5. Polaczek says:

    Troll function FTW! Nice job man, really neat project. I agree with matt, it would be a cool toy too!

  6. M4CGYV3R says:

    That is seriously awesome. I can’t imagine the complexity of doing this on an FPGA.

    I love the Troll face, cracked me up and it was an awesome effect.

  7. zool says:

    lol trolled

  8. Timmah says:

    forgive me because I dont know how to read, but did they code this in pure verilog, or are they using a “soft-core” fpga design where they only have to program an asm virtual “microcontroller” ? Either way good job.

  9. dude says:

    I bet if someone made a $10 fpga on a breakout board that was stand alone. this would be on alot of them.

  10. Tom says:

    Falling sand game on and FPGA


    How on earth do you guys keep on making horrible mistakes like this?

    Who proofreads your stuff?

  11. d says:

    do you really need an ESD mat while using the DE2 board? we never use any protection in school (mostly doing programming over USB etc).

  12. MrX says:

    Sand particles game on a FPGA: COOL!

    What’s next? Sand particles game on a GPU? Oh, wait.

  13. Mike Szczys says:

    @Tom: you do, thanks. Fixed!

  14. Whatnot says:

    This is based on a rip of the rip of the old ‘powder’ simulation toy from stanislaw k skowronek I think.

    (which also used by AMD to showcase their opencl hardware acceleration at one point)

  15. Tom says:

    @Mike, I wish I could say it was my pleasure to do so!!

  16. chris says:

    Do want this on Android! The Physics game mentioned is still available to download and is much fun.

  17. zEX0dEx says:

    Belarusian Guys Rock’s Falling sand game on an Xilinx FPGA with New Year Theme :)

    Thx for great work, we had much fun!

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