Originally Posted by HIWTHI
Only problem is getting it to run. Almost all games use fake physics to get results that look good to the eye, but are not at all realistic. Calculating fluid physics would be a huge challenge as to get true realism you'd have to go down the molecule level, but even not going as molecular as that would still be difficult on today's hardware. More and more games are starting to use hair/cloth waving, and you will see it come as a standard as it's not too expensive to do and gives a wow factor. Your other ideas are interesting, but you still get to the point where it looks just as good, if not better, if you use some unrealistic hacks than programming the real thing. I can't wait until computer hardware gets to the level where you can do all of these realistically, but that's still a ways off.
That's a little unfair - even most actual fluid simluations don't use 'molecular' simulation (though particle based systems do exist). Usually 'flow fields' which are essentially 3d grids of vectors or something like that're used. A chap at the graphics department of my university is looking at vorticity based smoke simulation, which could probably be extended to fluids. Impressive stuff - unfortunately a paper hasn't been published yet, so there's nothing I can actually show off.
In any case, my point is that pretty much every physical simulation can be managed with clever tricks. While I agree that soft body simulation is still not really feasible, I think it's realistic to expect realistic simulations of these things in the not too distant future. Perhaps not in the next 2 years, but research is advancing as hardware does, so there is a certain kind of convergence. Also, as vector processors become more accessible (ala 'cell'), there'll be MUCH more power for this sort of thing. Of course, you can use the GPU, but then you're cycle stealing from something that's constantly busy.
You're right though, it's all still a little ways off at least, and clever tricks will be how its done when it is done.