EditorSceneFormatImporter in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to this in-depth tutorial on the EditorSceneFormatImporter class in Godot 4, the highly anticipated release of the beloved open-source game engine. Whether you are an experienced coder or a newcomer to the world of game development, understanding how to incorporate third-party 3D assets into your Godot projects can significantly enhance your creative process. Join us as we delve into the capabilities of the EditorSceneFormatImporter and how it empowers developers to bring a multitude of diverse content into the Godot environment.

What is EditorSceneFormatImporter?

Understanding EditorSceneFormatImporter

The EditorSceneFormatImporter is an essential class provided by Godot 4’s engine, designed specifically to import scenes from third-party 3D file formats. As a backbone for plugins like EditorSceneFormatImporterBlend, EditorSceneFormatImporterFBX, and EditorSceneFormatImporterGLTF, it provides the framework for getting external 3D content into your games.

What is EditorSceneFormatImporter Used For?

This powerful class supports developers in importing 3D scenes complete with textures, materials, and animations, thereby enhancing the visual fidelity and interactivity of their games. It paves the way for a more efficient workflow, as artists and designers can create assets in the tools they are most comfortable with and then seamlessly integrate those assets into Godot 4 via custom importer scripts.

Why Should I Learn About EditorSceneFormatImporter?

Learning how to use the EditorSceneFormatImporter class is invaluable for game developers aiming to expand their asset pipeline and leverage a variety of file formats and 3D content. Not only does this knowledge open up a realm of possibilities for game design, but it also helps ensure that the assets used are optimized for performance and compatibility with Godot’s robust rendering system. Let’s embark on this journey of enabling artistry and technicality to coalesce within your Godot 4 projects!

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Importing a Scene with EditorSceneFormatImporter

Let’s get started with the basics of using EditorSceneFormatImporter to import a third-party scene into Godot 4. We’ll demonstrate how to create a custom import plugin that leverages this class.

First, we need to create an import script that inherits from EditorSceneFormatImporter. Add the script to your project, and then implement the required functions.

extends EditorSceneFormatImporter

func get_importer_name():
    return "your.custom.importer"

func get_visible_name():
    return "Custom Scene Importer"

func get_recognized_extensions():
    return ["abc"]

func import_scene(path, flags, bake_fps):
    # Your code to handle the import process

In the above code:

  • get_importer_name() must return a unique name for the importer.
  • get_visible_name() provides a human-readable name for the editor.
  • get_recognized_extensions() specifies which file extensions this importer can handle.
  • import_scene() is where you define how the scene is imported, such as parsing the file and creating nodes.

Handling the Import Process

Now, let’s write the code for the import_scene() function to process an example “.abc” file, which is a placeholder for your custom file format.

func import_scene(path, flags, bake_fps):
    var file = File.new()
    if file.open(path, File.READ) == OK:
        var content = file.get_as_text()
        # This is where you would parse the file and create the scene
        # For demonstration, we'll just print the content
    # Create a basic scene to confirm it's working
    var node = Spatial.new()
    return node

Here we are:

  • Opening the file to be imported.
  • Reading the file’s content, which would typically be parsed to construct the scene (our example simply prints it).
  • Creating a basic Spatial node to serve as the root of our imported scene.

Registering the Custom Importer

To have Godot recognize and use your custom importer, you need to register it within the editor. This is done by configuring the plugin script accordingly.

extends EditorPlugin

func _enter_tree():

func _exit_tree():

In this code:

  • We’re using the tool keyword, which ensures our plugin runs in the editor environment.
  • _enter_tree() and _exit_tree() are used to add and remove our custom import plugin when the plugin is enabled or disabled.

Extending Functionality with Import Options

Options can be added to customize the import process further and give users control over various parameters.

func get_import_options(flags):
    return [
            "name": "import_materials",
            "default_value": true

func import_scene(path, flags, bake_fps):
    var options = get_import_options(flags)
    var import_materials = options[0]["default_value"]
    # Now make use of the 'import_materials' flag to handle materials import

Here you can see:

  • An get_import_options() function defining an option to import materials.
  • During the actual import process, this option is queried and used to influence how materials are imported.

This completes our second part on using EditorSceneFormatImporter in Godot 4. Stay tuned for further examples in the next section, where we’ll deep-dive into more complex scenarios and usage!

Excellent progress so far! As we continue exploring the EditorSceneFormatImporter, we will focus on importing geometric data, materials, and proper scene structure. We’ll also touch on error handling to ensure a smooth import process.

Importing Geometric Data

Geometry is one of the fundamental elements you need to import from an external file. Let’s create a function that imports mesh data:

func import_mesh_data(mesh_data):
    var mesh = ArrayMesh.new()

    # Assuming mesh_data is a dictionary containing vertices and faces
    var vertices = PoolVector3Array(mesh_data["vertices"])
    var faces = PoolIntArray(mesh_data["faces"])

    # Create an array for the surface
    var arrays = []
    arrays[Mesh.ARRAY_VERTEX] = vertices
    arrays[Mesh.ARRAY_INDEX] = faces

    # Add the created surface to the mesh
    mesh.add_surface_from_arrays(Mesh.PRIMITIVE_TRIANGLES, arrays)
    return mesh

Here, we’ve defined:

  • A function import_mesh_data(mesh_data) that creates a new ArrayMesh.
  • vertices and faces are fetched from our hypothetical mesh data structure.
  • An arrays structure to set up the mesh, followed by adding a surface to the mesh with the data.

Creating Material Imports

Materials give life to your 3D models. Here’s how you might import material data and apply it to a mesh:

func import_material_data(material_data):
    var material = SpatialMaterial.new()
    material.albedo_color = Color(material_data["color"])

    # More material properties could be set here
    return material

# Assuming mesh_node is a MeshInstance and material_data is provided
mesh_node.set_surface_material(0, import_material_data(material_data))

We’re crafting a simple:

  • New SpatialMaterial from an albedo color found in material_data.
  • Setting this material on the first surface of our mesh through set_surface_material.

Assembling The Scene Hierarchy

After importing meshes and materials, you’ll need to assemble them into a scene hierarchy:

func build_scene_hierarchy(scene_data, parent):
    for node_data in scene_data["nodes"]:
        var node

        if node_data["type"] == "MeshInstance":
            node = MeshInstance.new()
            node.mesh = import_mesh_data(node_data["mesh"])
            # Assume that we have a function to set materials on the mesh
            set_mesh_materials(node, node_data["materials"])

        elif node_data["type"] == "Light":
            node = OmniLight.new()
            # Setup light properties from node_data...

        build_scene_hierarchy(node_data, node)  # Recursively build children

With the above code we’re:

  • Looping through each node in scene_data.
  • Creating appropriate Godot nodes based on the node’s type.
  • Recursive function calls ensure a complete traversal of the scene tree.

Error Handling During Import

It’s crucial to handle potential errors that may occur during the import process. Here’s an example for safeguarding your mesh import function:

func import_mesh_data(mesh_data):
    if mesh_data["vertices"].size() == 0 or mesh_data["faces"].size() == 0:
        print("Error: Mesh data is incomplete.")
        return null
    # Continue with mesh creation...

Our error handling:

  • Checks for empty vertices or faces in the mesh data.
  • Prints an error message and returns null if the data is incomplete, helping in debugging the import process.

As developers utilize the EditorSceneFormatImporter to customize their importing routines, understanding these fundamental aspects of geometric and material imports, as well as scene assembly and error handling is vital. By leveraging these examples, developers can further enhance and tailor the importation process to fit their specific needs and asset workflows.

We at Zenva believe that mastering these techniques will allow for high-quality content creation and an optimized game development workflow in Godot 4. Stick with us for more tutorials and dive deep into the limitless potential of Godot and game development!

Boosting the import functionality further, let’s explore how to handle animations, deal with importing lights, cameras, and adding custom options for the import process. These features will make our imported scenes come alive with motion and realism.

Importing Animations

Animations are a major part of 3D scenes. Here’s a simplified way to import animation data:

func import_animation_data(animation_data, scene):
    var animation_player = AnimationPlayer.new()

    for animation in animation_data:
        var anim_res = Animation.new()
        # Set up the animation length and loop
        anim_res.length = animation["length"]
        anim_res.loop = animation["loop"]
        # Go through all the tracks
        for track_data in animation["tracks"]:
            var track = anim_res.track_insert(track_data["type"], track_data["path"], track_data["interp"])

            # Add keyframes to the track
            for keyframe in track_data["keyframes"]:
                anim_res.track_insert_key(track, keyframe["time"], keyframe["value"], keyframe["transition"])

        animation_player.add_animation(animation["name"], anim_res)

In this snippet, we:

  • Add an AnimationPlayer to the scene.
  • Iterate through each animation to set up its properties and tracks.
  • Add keyframes to the respective tracks to build up the animation.

Importing Lights and Cameras

Beyond animating objects, let’s see how you might import scene lights:

func import_light_data(light_data):
    var light
    match light_data["type"]:
            light = OmniLight.new()
            light.omni_range = light_data["range"]
            light = DirectionalLight.new()
            # Set up directional light specific properties...

    # Universal light properties setup
    light.color = Color(light_data["color"])
    light.brightness = light_data["brightness"]

    return light

Cameras are crucial for viewing the scenes, so here’s a simple function for importing camera data:

func import_camera_data(camera_data):
    var camera = Camera.new()
    camera.fov = camera_data["fov"]
    camera.near_clip = camera_data["near_clip"]
    camera.far_clip = camera_data["far_clip"]
    # Other properties can be set depending on what you want to import
    return camera

For both lights and cameras, we are:

  • Creating and returning a Godot light or camera object.
  • Configuring universal properties that apply to any light or camera, like color for lights or FOV for cameras.

Adding Custom Import Options

Customizing the import process can be done by introducing custom options. Let’s implement support for a simple custom import option:

func get_import_options(flags):
    return [
        {"name": "import_normals", "default_value": true},
        # ...other options

And modify our mesh import function to use this option:

func import_mesh_data(mesh_data, import_options):
    var mesh = ArrayMesh.new()
    # Retrieve the custom option value
    var import_normals = import_options["import_normals"]

    # Fill the arrays based on import option
    var arrays = []
    arrays[Mesh.ARRAY_VERTEX] = PoolVector3Array(mesh_data["vertices"])
    if import_normals and "normals" in mesh_data:
        arrays[Mesh.ARRAY_NORMAL] = PoolVector3Array(mesh_data["normals"])

    mesh.add_surface_from_arrays(Mesh.PRIMITIVE_TRIANGLES, arrays)
    return mesh

This way, developers can:

  • Offer customizable import settings through the Godot editor’s Import tab.
  • Check the option in the import function and process the mesh data accordingly.

As you grow more familiar with these advanced import tactics in Godot 4, you’ll be well on your way to importing rich, vibrant scenes with ease. We at Zenva are dedicated to helping you unlock these skills and more, empowering you to bring your creative visions to life with Godot 4. Ready for more learning adventures? Stick with our courses to further enhance your game development expertise!

Continuing Your Godot Journey

Bravo for deep diving into the EditorSceneFormatImporter with us! Now, as you look toward the horizon of your Godot development journey, it’s crucial to keep the momentum going. Whether you’ve been inspired by this tutorial to create your own 3D adventures, or you’re seeking to polish and expand your Godot skillset even further, we are here to guide you every step of the way.

For a structured path to mastering Godot, we’d heartily recommend checking out our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. It’s carefully crafted to lead you through the nuances of creating cross-platform games, from simple 2D projects to complex 3D environments. With a curriculum bustling with hands-on projects and fundamental coding challenges, this mini-degree is perfect for beginners and experienced developers alike.

To explore an even wider array of topics and courses that will bolster your skill set, be sure to visit our complete collection of Godot courses. Learn at your own pace, fortify your knowledge with quizzes, and engage in project-based learning that’s accessible anytime, anywhere. So why wait? Step into the role of Godot master with Zenva, and let’s bring your gaming dreams to life!


Embracing the versatility of the EditorSceneFormatImporter sets the stage for a universe of possibilities in Godot 4. With the knowledge you’ve gained, your toolkit is brimming with new, potent techniques to import a plethora of assets and scenes into your game projects. Remember, the journey of learning is continuous and every project you embark on enhances your craft.

As we bid farewell to this tutorial, we invite you to join us at Zenva, where your adventure into game development knows no bounds. Nurture your passion for creation with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree, and begin sculpting your path to becoming an industry-ready developer. With each course, challenge, and project, you’re not just learning – you’re unleashing the potential to build worlds of your own. Explore with us, create with confidence, and shape your future in game development now!

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