GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to our deep dive into the world of 3D collisions in Godot 4 using the GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D class. Mastering the intricacies of particle systems is not only an essential skill for creating stunning visual effects but also for adding realism to your games. This tutorial will serve as your comprehensive guide to understanding and implementing GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D in your projects, giving you the power to enhance particle interactions with the environment in a visually impressive way.

What is GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D?

Understanding GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D

The GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D class is a feature within the Godot engine designed to add collision detection to 3D GPU particle systems. It relies on a technique known as a Signed Distance Field (SDF), which efficiently represents approximate collision shapes for objects of virtually any shape or size.

The Purpose of GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D

This class is particularly valuable when you want your particles to respond to the environment realistically. Whether you are creating a swarm of buzzing bees that need to avoid trees or a magical mist that clings to the contours of a haunted landscape, GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D allows you to achieve these effects with precision and flexibility.

Why Should I Learn GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D?

Learning to implement GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D opens the door to a new level of interactivity in your 3D environments. It brings your game worlds to life, making your particles aware of and reactive to surrounding geometry. Moreover, understanding this class will deepen your overall grasp of Godot’s powerful particle system and its potential to create more immersive gaming experiences.

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Setting Up Your Godot Project

To get started with GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D in Godot 4, you need to set up your project and create a basic 3D scene. Let’s start by adding a simple 3D particle system that we will later enhance with our GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D.

var particle_system =

Once your particle system is in the scene, let’s configure some of its basic properties to emit particles:

particle_system.process_material = New ParticlesMaterial
particle_system.emitting = true
particle_system.amount = 100
particle_system.lifetime = 1.0
particle_system.visibility_aabb = AABB(Vector3(-10, -10, -10), Vector3(20, 20, 20))

These settings ensure that your particle system is set to emit 100 particles that live for 1 second within the defined AABB (Axis Aligned Bounding Box).

Creating the Collision Shape

The next step is to define the collision shape that the particles will interact with. Godot allows you to use a 3D model as the basis for creating a Signed Distance Field that the GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D will use.

For our example, let’s assume we have a 3D model named “rocky_terrain.obj”. We need to load this model and prepare it to serve as a collision shape:

var terrain = load("res://path/to/rocky_terrain.obj")
var collision_shape =
collision_shape.collision_shape = terrain

By calling `add_collision_sdf`, you attach the collision shape to the particle system, enabling the particles to react to your terrain’s geometry.

Adjusting Collision Parameters

With the collision shape in place, fine-tuning the interaction between particles and SDF is crucial. GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D offers several parameters to adjust the response:

– `collision_layer`: Defines the collision layer the particles belong to.
– `collision_mask`: Specifies what collision layers the particles can collide with.

Let’s configure the collision parameters:

collision_shape.collision_layer = 1
collision_shape.collision_mask = 1
collision_shape.bounce_factor = 0.5
collision_shape.dampen_factor = 0.5

These settings will make particles bounce with half their velocity and dampen their movement to represent energy loss during the collision.

Emulating Environmental Interactions

Now that our collision is set up, we can focus on making the particles’ movement more natural. One common effect is having particles slide down or roll off slopes. We can achieve this by tweaking the friction parameter:

collision_shape.friction = 0.8

With a higher friction value, particles will more realistically simulate sliding down sloped surfaces.

Lastly, we want to look at the feedback loop, where colliding particles influence the collision shape, creating an interactive system:

collision_shape.feedback_strength = 0.05

A non-zero `feedback_strength` means that particles will “push” on the collision shape when they collide, adding dynamic behavior to both the particles and the terrain.

With these code examples, you have a solid foundation to start experimenting with GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D in Godot 4. These basics should help you integrate particle collision into your projects, creating more dynamic and interactive 3D environments.

Further Customization of Particle Interactions

One of the most engaging aspects of game development is the ability to add unique behaviors to game elements. For particles, the `interactivity` parameter is crucial, and tweaking it can lead to different interactive behaviors between the particle system and the environment.

// Setting interactivity to allow particle collision impacts on the environment
collision_shape.interactivity = true

By default, `interactivity` is set to `false`. However, once set to `true`, you can create effects where particles might erode or otherwise change the environment they collide with.

Another detail to consider is the resolution of your Signed Distance Field (SDF). The accuracy of collisions is directly affected by the SDF resolution:

// Increasing resolution for more accurate collision detection
collision_shape.sdf_resolution = 256

The `sdf_resolution` can be set to higher values for greater accuracy, at the expense of performance. It’s a trade-off that needs to be balanced based on the requirements of your game and the power of your target platform.

In Godot, particles can also be set up to cast and receive shadows, making them feel more integrated into the scene:

// Enabling shadows for the particle system
particle_system.cast_shadows = true
particle_system.receive_shadows = true

It’s a subtle effect, but it adds greatly to the realism of your scene, especially if you have a dynamic lighting setup.

We should not overlook the `collision_sdf_threshold` parameter, which fine-tunes the distance at which particles will be considered for collision:

// Setting a threshold for collision detection
collision_shape.collision_sdf_threshold = 0.1

This parameter can be adjusted to be smaller or larger depending on how “sensitive” you need the collision detection to be. Smaller values can lead to particles colliding more closely with the SDF geometry, but may also increase false positives.

Lastly, let’s tackle optimization. A necessary aspect of particle systems is ensuring they perform well. Godot offers the `visbility_aabb` property which helps with optimization by defining the space the particles are allowed to exist in:

// Optimizing particle visibility to improve performance
particle_system.visibility_aabb = AABB(Vector3(-20, -20, -20), Vector3(40, 40, 40))

By ensuring that particles are not calculated when outside of this box, performance is improved. This is particularly useful in large, open-world environments where particles may not always be in view.

Implementing these features gives you the flexibility to create a wide variety of interactive and realistic particle systems in your games. Whether you are developing a magical spell effect or simulating a waterfall, these tools provide the means to bring those visions to life in Godot 4.

Experiment with the settings, test the performance impacts, and most importantly, have fun creating! With these building blocks, you are well on your way to polishing your game’s particle effects to a professional standard.

Advanced Particle Dynamics

After exploring the fundamental concepts and basic settings, let’s delve further into how we can use GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D to create advanced dynamic behaviors in our particles.

Let’s say we want to give our particles a velocity upon collision, almost as if they were bouncing. We can further define the collision interaction by setting the `bounce_factor`:

// Increasing the bounce factor for a more elastic collision response
collision_shape.bounce_factor = 0.8

A higher `bounce_factor` will make particles reflect off the SDF with more energy, simulating a more elastic surface. However, to prevent excessive bouncing, which can look unnatural, we combine it with the `dampen_factor`:

// Dampening the particles' energy upon collision
collision_shape.dampen_factor = 0.3

A non-zero `dampen_factor` will reduce the velocity of the particles after they bounce, which helps in simulating a variety of materials.

With Godot’s powerful shader system, you can also control the visual response of the particles upon collision. For instance, you might want the particles to change color after they hit the SDF:

// Changing particle color based on collision in the shader
shader_code += """
void fragment() {
    // Check if the particle is colliding and change color if so
    if (GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D.is_colliding()) {
        ALBEDO = vec3(1.0, 0.0, 0.0); // Red to indicate collision
    } else {
        ALBEDO = vec3(1.0); // White for non-colliding particles
particles.shader_code = shader_code

This shader code snippet changes the color of the particles to red when they’re colliding with the Signed Distance Field and keeps them white otherwise.

Godot 4 also allows for `collision_shapes` to be updated in real-time. This can be particularly useful for dynamic environments where the terrain or obstacles may change during gameplay:

// Updating the collision shape when the environment changes
collision_shape.collision_shape = updated_terrain

By replacing the `collision_shape` with an updated version, you ensure that the particle collisions remain accurate even as the environment changes.

It’s worth mentioning that while collision detection is essential for realism, it can also be computationally expensive. To optimize our particle systems further, we can control when the particles check for collisions:

// Setting the step rate for collision checks
collision_shape.space_step_rate = 0.5

With `space_step_rate`, we specify how often the particles check for collisions by setting a value between 0 and 1, with lower values indicating less frequent checks and higher values for more precise, but potentially more performance-intensive, collision detection.

Finally, you have the ability to script behaviors for particles upon collisions by connecting Godot signals from the particle system:

// Connect a signal for particle collisions
particle_system.connect("particles_collision", self, "_on_particles_collision")

func _on_particles_collision(particle_id, position, normal):
    print("Particle ", particle_id, " collided at ", position)

By connecting to the `particles_collision` signal, you’re able to execute custom code when a particle collides, allowing for intricate gameplay mechanics or visual effects.

With these advanced techniques and code examples, we’re paving the way for you to create immersive and dynamic particle systems. These enhancements not only improve the visual appeal of your games but also provide players with a more engaging and responsive experience. As always, while designing complex systems, be mindful of the balance between visual fidelity and performance to maintain a smooth gameplay experience.

Continue Your Godot Journey

Embarking on the journey of game development is an enriching experience that continuously opens new doors for creativity and technical growth. If you’re ready to take your Godot 4 skills to the next level, our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is your next milestone.

Designed for both beginners and those who have conquered the basics, this Mini-Degree provides an expansive look into the world of game creation with Godot 4. You’ll dive into a variety of essential topics, from 2D and 3D asset implementation to complex gameplay mechanics spanning different game genres. Not only will you learn through practice, but you’ll also have the opportunity to build a portfolio through hands-on projects. Discover more and start shaping your future in the gaming industry by visiting the Godot Game Development Mini-Degree.

For an even broader selection of resources, explore our range of Godot courses. With over 250 courses to choose from, Zenva offers a pathway for you to go from beginner to professional in a way that fits your schedule and learning pace. Every step you take is a building block towards mastering game development and unlocking new opportunities in this ever-growing field.


The canvas of game development is vast and ever-changing, with each new feature like GPUParticlesCollisionSDF3D in Godot 4 adding depth and realism to your creations. As you’ve seen, the right knowledge can transform simple particle systems into interactive components that breathe life into your virtual worlds. We’ve covered the essentials, but the true mastery comes with practice, exploration, and a passion for learning.

At Zenva, we’re committed to guiding you through every step of your journey. Whether you’re aiming to sharpen your skills or starting from scratch, the Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is the companion you need to reach new heights in your game development career. So don’t hesitate – embrace the challenge, unleash your creativity, and let Zenva be the launchpad for your success!

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