Node3D in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to our tutorial on Node3D, an essential building block for 3D game development in the Godot Engine. With the release of Godot 4, there’s been a wave of updates and improvements, and one of the critical changes includes the transition from Spatial nodes to the Node3D class.

Whether you’re a seasoned game developer or someone just starting out, exploring the capabilities of the Node3D class will enhance your expertise in crafting immersive 3D worlds. Grasping the concept of Node3D allows for a deeper understanding of the Godot landscape, positioning you to create more dynamic and interactive gaming experiences.

What is Node3D?

Node3D represents the most fundamental 3D game object within the Godot Engine. It’s the foundation from which all other 3D game objects inherit. At its core, Node3D encompasses a Transform3D property and options for visibility management, serving as a pivotal element for maneuvering and structuring objects within a 3D space.

What is Node3D Used For?

Node3D is used as a versatile parent node that allows developers to implement transformations such as movement, scaling, rotation, and toggling visibility for descendant nodes. Understanding how to manipulate these properties is critical when constructing a game’s scene hierarchy and interactions.

Why Should I Learn About Node3D?

Node3D is more than just a position in space; it’s a tool that can empower your games with the following capabilities:

– Parenting and organizing your 3D scene effectively.
– Managing transformations in either global or local space to accurately position objects.
– Enabling or disabling visibility to create dynamic gameplay.
– Serving as an entry point for using Godot’s inherited 3D nodes like Camera3D, Light3D, and more.

Learning Node3D is an investment in your ability to control 3D environments and animate objects, which are fundamental skills for any 3D game developer. Let’s dive into the world of Godot 4’s Node3D and unlock the potential of 3D game development.

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Creating a Node3D in the Godot Editor

To start using Node3D, you begin by creating an instance in the Godot editor. Here’s how to create a simple Node3D object.

func _ready():
    var new_node = Node3D.new()
    add_child(new_node)

Once created, you can tailor its properties using the Inspector or via code, as shown.

func _ready():
    var new_node = Node3D.new()
    new_node.transform.origin = Vector3(0, 0, 0) # Position at the origin
    add_child(new_node)

Every 3D scene in Godot begins with a Node3D.

Transforming Node3D Objects

Modifying your Node3D is crucial for movement, scaling, and rotation in 3D space. The Transform3D property allows for direct manipulation of these aspects.

To move a node:

func _process(delta):
    var new_pos = Vector3(1, 0, 0)
    $YourNode3D.translate(new_pos * delta) # Moves the node along the x-axis

To rotate a node around the y-axis:

func _process(delta):
    $YourNode3D.rotate_y(deg2rad(45.0) * delta) # Rotates the node 45 degrees per second

Scaling a node proportionally:

func _ready():
    $YourNode3D.scale = Vector3(2, 2, 2) # Doubles the size of the node

These simple transformations are the building blocks of more complex movement and animations in your game.

Visibility Management

Controlling the visibility of nodes is a common requirement in game development. You can easily show or hide objects using Node3D’s visibility methods.

To toggle visibility:

func hide_show_node():
    $YourNode3D.visible = !$YourNode3D.visible # Toggles the visibility

To make a node visible:

$YourNode3D.show()

And to hide a node:

$YourNode3D.hide()

Visibility can be key for game mechanics such as stealth, or simply for the revealing and hiding of UI elements and in-game objects.

Parenting and Scene Hierarchy

Node3D objects can be parents to other nodes, which is fundamental for creating complex scenes. When you parent a node, it will inherit the parent’s transform.

Adding a child node:

func _ready():
    var child_node = Node3D.new()
    $YourNode3D.add_child(child_node) # Adds the child node to YourNode3D

When moving or rotating the parent, the child moves relative to the parent, which is extremely useful for situations such as a character holding a weapon that needs to move with the character.

func _process(delta):
    $ParentNode.rotate_y(deg2rad(10) * delta)
    # The child node will rotate around the parent

By mastering parenting and hierarchy, you can develop sophisticated structures in your game world.Expanding upon our Node3D tutorial, let’s explore more complex actions like chaining transformations, applying physics, and interacting with signals. These examples will help solidify your understanding of Node3D’s potential.

Chaining Transformations

We can perform multiple transformations sequentially, such as rotating an object after moving it.

func _process(delta):
    # Move the node on the x-axis.
    $YourNode3D.translate(Vector3(1, 0, 0) * delta)
    
    # Then rotate it around the y-axis.
    $YourNode3D.rotate_y(deg2rad(45) * delta)

By chaining transformations, you can create more complex and lifelike motions for your game objects.

Applying Physics with Node3D

Using Node3D objects with Godot’s physics engine allows for realistic simulation of forces, velocities, and collision detection.

Here’s how to apply a constant force to a Node3D object with a RigidBody3D child node:

func _ready():
    var rigid_body = RigidBody3D.new()
    $YourNode3D.add_child(rigid_body)
    
    # Apply a constant force to move the rigod body.
    rigid_body.apply_central_impulse(Vector3(0, 0, 10))

Note how we’re adding a RigidBody3D to our Node3D and then applying an impulse to it, illustrating the interplay between Node3D and the physics system.

Responding to Signals

Godot employs a signal system to handle event-driven programming. Node3D objects can emit signals or respond to them.

Suppose you want to change the color of a spatial material when the Node3D is clicked:

func _input(event):
    if event is InputEventMouseButton and event.pressed and event.button_index == BUTTON_LEFT:
        _change_color_to(Color.red)

func _change_color_to(color):
    var material = $YourMeshInstance.get_surface_material(0) as SpatialMaterial
    material.albedo_color = color

This example checks for a left mouse button click and then changes the color of the mesh material associated with the node.

Animations and Tweening

Node3D can interact with Tween nodes for smooth transformations and animations.

Here’s an example of smoothly scaling a Node3D to twice its size over a period of 5 seconds:

func _ready():
    var tween = Tween.new()
    add_child(tween)
    tween.interpolate_property($YourNode3D, "scale",
                               $YourNode3D.scale,
                               $YourNode3D.scale * 2,
                               5, Tween.TRANS_LINEAR, Tween.EASE_IN_OUT)
    tween.start()

Tweening is a powerful technique for animating properties over time, which can be applied to any animatable property of Node3D.

Using Node3D as Camera or Light Holders

Node3D can also act as a holder for camera or light nodes, offering you a convenient way to control their positions and orientations.

Mounting a camera onto a Node3D, then following a player character:

func _process(delta):
    $CameraHolder.global_transform = $Player.global_transform

Describing these interactions enables you to see how the Node3D class functions at the heart of scene and game object management in Godot. Integrating it with physics, materials, tweens, and various signals demonstrates Node3D’s versatility and its central place in Godot’s ecosystem.In this section, we’ll explore advanced Node3D manipulation like accessing child nodes, creating custom transformations, and exporting properties to allow for inspector edits.

Accessing Child Nodes

Node3D provides various methods to traverse and interact with its children. This is fundamental for scene management.

To access a specific child:

var child = $YourNode3D.get_node("ChildNodeName")
# Now you can interact with this child node directly.

To iterate over all direct children:

for child in $YourNode3D.get_children():
    # Perform actions with each child node
    # For example, hide all children
    child.hide()

Applying Custom Transformations

Sometimes, a game’s logic requires custom transformations that are beyond the basic translate, rotate, and scale methods.

For example, let’s apply a transformation that both translates and rotates a Node3D object:

func apply_custom_transform():
    var t = Transform3D()
    # Rotate 45 degrees around the Y-axis
    t.basis = t.basis.rotated(Vector3.UP, deg2rad(45)) 
    # Translate by Vector3(1, 2, 3)
    t.origin = Vector3(1, 2, 3) 
    $YourNode3D.global_transform = t

Exporting Variables

To make a script property editable from the inspector, you can use the `export` keyword. This is useful when you need to tweak values often.

Exporting a variable to adjust Node3D’s scale from the inspector:

export var node_scale : Vector3 = Vector3.ONE

func _ready():
    $YourNode3D.scale = node_scale

Interpolation and Movement Along Paths

You can also use Node3D with Path nodes for moving objects along predefined curves.

Attaching a Node3D to a path:

func _process(delta):
    var path = $Path
    var curve_length = path.curve.get_baked_length()
    var position_along_curve = fmod(delta * 10, curve_length)
    $YourNode3D.global_transform.origin = path.curve.interpolate_baked(position_along_curve)

Changing Node3D’s Rendering Layers

In Godot, rendering layers are used to control visibility of nodes with cameras and lights. Node3D has a property that allows you to set the layers it exists in.

Moving the Node3D to a different rendering layer:

func _ready():
    $YourNode3D.layers = 2 # Move the node to the 2nd rendering layer

Listening to Physics Process

Physics-related changes should usually be handled during the physics processing step. You can override `_physics_process` to do so.

Applying gradual rotation with physics frame consistency:

func _physics_process(delta):
    var rotation_speed = deg2rad(20) * delta
    $YourNode3D.rotate_y(rotation_speed)

By building upon these examples and concepts, you gain the flexibility and power to orchestrate intricate interactions within your 3D scenes, making your games feel alive and dynamic. These principles lay the foundation for developing advanced mechanics and polished gameplay experiences within the Godot game engine.

Continuing Your Godot Journey

If you have enjoyed diving into the world of Node3D and want to keep expanding your Godot skills, we’ve got you covered. Our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is the perfect next step. It offers a comprehensive curriculum that takes you through building cross-platform games with Godot 4, covering essential topics from 2D and 3D assets, GDScript, gameplay mechanics, to combat systems and UI design. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a developer looking to polish your skills, this mini-degree is designed to guide you through the learning process with practical, hands-on lessons.

Besides the targeted learning in the Mini-Degree, we offer a broader range of Godot courses tailored to fit all experience levels. Explore our full collection of Godot courses to deepen your understanding and mastery of the engine. With Zenva, you can confidently progress from beginner fundamentals to the advanced techniques necessary for professional game development. Use the skills you gain to start publishing your own games, advance your career, or even kickstart your own business. Continue your journey with us, and let’s bring your game development dreams to life!

Conclusion

Embarking on the journey of mastering Node3D in the Godot Engine can open a world of possibilities for your game development aspirations. With the foundational knowledge and skills in manipulating 3D objects, you’ll unlock the potential to create the immersive and interactive experiences that today’s gamers seek. Whether it’s crafting detailed worlds, programming complex mechanics, or animating the next iconic game character, your path has been paved with the essential building blocks needed to turn your creative visions into reality.

We at Zenva understand the importance of staying updated and skilled in the constantly evolving field of game development. That’s why our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree exists – to ensure you’re equipped with contemporary knowledge, real-world practices, and a deep understanding of Godot Engine’s capabilities. Join us in this comprehensive mini-degree, and let’s elevate your skills to craft the future of gaming, together.

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