PathFollow3D in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to the wonderful world of Godot 4 and its PathFollow3D class! Whether you’re an aspiring game developer or an experienced coder looking to learn something new, understanding how to manipulate objects along a set path is an essential skill in creating immersive and dynamic game environments. Dive into this tutorial and discover the magic behind seamless object movements without the complexity of custom coding.

What is PathFollow3D?

The PathFollow3D class is a powerful node within Godot 4, a popular open-source game engine. It solves a frequent challenge faced by game developers: the need to move objects along predetermined paths. This class works by associating itself with a parent Path3D node and calculates the position of a point along that path based on a given distance from the start.

What is it for?

Game developers often use PathFollow3D to animate characters, vehicles, and other objects along a path. This could be for a cutscene, where a camera follows a specific route, or an enemy patrol moving on a predefined track. The flexible properties of PathFollow3D make it ideal for a range of applications, from simple following behaviors to complex, looping trajectories.

Why Should I Learn It?

Learning how to use PathFollow3D can greatly simplify your game development process. Instead of writing extensive scripts to define movement patterns, this node allows for easy manipulation of object paths with minimal coding. It’s perfect for beginners who want to see quick results and for seasoned developers who value efficiency. Plus, being proficient with PathFollow3D can give you more creative freedom to design intricate movement patterns that could be difficult and time-consuming to achieve otherwise.

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Creating a Path3D and Adding a PathFollow3D Node

Before we can leverage the power of PathFollow3D, we need to create a path for our objects to follow. Here’s how to create a basic Path3D node and add a PathFollow3D node to it:

// STEP 1: Create a Path3D node
var path = Path3D.new()

// STEP 2: Add points to the path
var curve = Curve3D.new()
curve.add_point(Vector3(0, 0, 0))
curve.add_point(Vector3(0, 0, 10))
curve.add_point(Vector3(0, 5, 20))
path.curve = curve

// STEP 3: Add the Path3D node to the scene
add_child(path)

// STEP 4: Create and add a PathFollow3D node as a child of Path3D
var path_follow = PathFollow3D.new()
path.add_child(path_follow)

// Now the PathFollow3D node is ready to control any object's movement along the path.

Attaching Objects to PathFollow3D

Once we have our path and PathFollow3D node set up, we can attach objects to it. Here’s an example of how to make a Spatial node follow our predefined path:

// Assuming you have a Spatial node that represents your object
var your_object = Spatial.new()

// STEP 1: Add your object to the scene
add_child(your_object)

// STEP 2: Attach your object to the PathFollow3D node
path_follow.add_child(your_object)

// The object is now set to follow the path defined in the Path3D node.

Setting Up the Offset and Unit Offset

With the object attached, control the exact position along the path with offset properties. Both ‘offset’ and ‘unit_offset’ are critical for controlling movement:

// To move the object to halfway along the path using 'offset'
path_follow.offset = curve.get_baked_length() / 2

// Alternatively, using 'unit_offset', which takes a value between 0 and 1 (representing 0% to 100% of the path)
path_follow.unit_offset = 0.5

// The object will be located at the middle point of the curve in both cases.

Animating along PathFollow3D

To animate an object along the path, we’ll typically modify the ‘unit_offset’ in the _process function. Here’s a simple example using GDScript to move an object from start to end along a path:

// Add this script to the PathFollow3D node

// Properties
var speed = 0.01

func _process(delta):
    // Increment the 'unit_offset' by 'speed' and loop around
    unit_offset += speed * delta
    if unit_offset > 1:
        unit_offset = 0

You’ve now learned the basics of setting up PathFollow3D in your Godot 4 scenes, how to attach objects to it, and control their movement along a path. This foundation will be invaluable as we proceed to more elaborate uses of the PathFollow3D class. Keep tweaking these examples and see what creative uses you can discover for this node in your projects!Great! Let’s delve further into the capabilities of PathFollow3D and how we can exploit its full potential in our Godot 4 projects. We’ll explore various functionalities with practical code examples that you can integrate into your games for smoother object movements along paths.

Looping and Ping-Pong Movement

Perhaps you want your object to loop infinitely along the path, or maybe you prefer it to move back and forth in a ping-pong motion. Here’s how you can implement both:

// Looping example
func _process(delta):
    unit_offset = (unit_offset + speed * delta) % 1

// Ping-pong example
var ping_pong_direction = 1

func _process(delta):
    unit_offset += speed * delta * ping_pong_direction
    if unit_offset > 1 or unit_offset < 0:
        ping_pong_direction *= -1
        unit_offset = clamp(unit_offset, 0, 1)

Manipulating the Curve

Modifying the curve by adding or deleting points can dynamically change the path your object follows. This can be especially useful for procedurally generated paths that change throughout the game.

// Adding a point to the curve
curve.add_point(Vector3(10, 0, 30))

// Removing a point from the curve (removing the first point in this example)
curve.remove_point(0)

// Always remember to update the Path3D's curve
path.curve = curve

Using Different Object Offsets

Sometimes, you might want to have multiple objects on the same path but at different positions. By setting each object’s ‘unit_offset’ uniquely, you can easily achieve this effect.

// PathFollow3D nodes for multiple objects
var path_follow1 = PathFollow3D.new()
var path_follow2 = PathFollow3D.new()

// Set different unit_offsets
path_follow1.unit_offset = 0.25
path_follow2.unit_offset = 0.75

// Attach objects to respective PathFollow3D nodes
path.add_child(path_follow1)
path.add_child(path_follow2)

// Assign your objects to follow
path_follow1.add_child(your_object1)
path_follow2.add_child(your_object2)

Rotating Objects Along the Curve

To make sure your objects not only follow the path but also rotate according to the direction of the curve, you can adjust the ‘rotate’ property.

// Set the object to rotate according to the curve's direction
path_follow.rotate = true

Adjusting PathFollow3D Settings at Runtime

Changing PathFollow3D properties at runtime enables you to create dynamic movement effects, like speeding up or slowing down the object along the path.

// Simple function to adjust speed
func adjust_speed(new_speed):
    speed = new_speed

// You can call this function at any point in your game to change the object's speed
adjust_speed(0.02) // This will double the speed

// Similarly, you can toggle the loop and the rotation at runtime
path_follow.loop = true // or false
path_follow.rotate = true // or false

Mastering these techniques will make your games stand out with professional-level polish. Your objects will now sail, fly, or stroll along their paths in any manner you design. Remember, the key to unlocking engaging gameplay is often found in the details, and these PathFollow3D functionalities provide you those nuanced controls. Experiment with these examples, and tailor them to fit the specific needs of your game. We, at Zenva, are excited to see the amazing games you’ll craft with your newfound knowledge!Fantastic, you’re now familiar with some of the core functionalities of the PathFollow3D class in Godot 4. Let’s expand our knowledge further with some more advanced features and code examples to enhance your game projects.

Banking and Tilt:
One exciting feature of PathFollow3D is its ability to simulate banking, which refers to the slight tilt of an object when it takes a turn, much like an airplane. Here’s how to apply banking to your game objects:

// Angle in radians for maximum banking
var max_bank_angle = PI / 6

func _process(delta):
    var bank_angle = curve.interpolate_baked_up_vector(path_follow.offset).cross(Vector3.UP).normalized().angle_to(Vector3.FORWARD) * max_bank_angle
    your_object.transform = your_object.transform.rotated(Vector3.UP, bank_angle)

Adjusting Path FOV for Cameras:
If your PathFollow3D is attached to a camera, you might want to dynamically adjust the camera’s field of view (FOV) based on the position along the path to emphasize speed or to focus on certain elements:

// Assuming 'your_camera' is a reference to the Camera3D node
var min_fov = 70
var max_fov = 100

func _process(delta):
    var t = curve.interpolate_baked(path_follow.offset)
    var speed_ratio = t.length()
    your_camera.fov = min_fov + speed_ratio * (max_fov - min_fov)

Dynamic Path Modification:
In some game scenarios, it might be necessary to modify the path while the game is running. Altering the curve can create the effect of a path that adapts to player choices or environmental changes:

// Random point generation for curve alteration
func modify_path():
    for i in range(curve.get_point_count()):
        var rnd_offset = Vector3(rand_range(-5,5), rand_range(-5,5), rand_range(-5,5))
        curve.set_point_position(i, curve.get_point_position(i) + rnd_offset)

// You can call 'modify_path' in response to game events

Hiding and Showing Path at Runtime:
In level editor modes or debugging phases, you may want to visualize the path. Here’s how to toggle the visibility of a Path3D node:

// Toggle visibility
func toggle_path_visibility():
    path.visible = !path.visible

Path Completion Events:
Sometimes we want to trigger events when an object reaches the end of its path. We can do this by checking the ‘unit_offset’ and taking action when it nears 1:

func _process(delta):
    path_follow.unit_offset += speed * delta
    if path_follow.unit_offset >= 1:
        path_follow.unit_offset = 1
        emit_signal("path_completed")
        # Take additional actions here if necessary

With these techniques in your arsenal, you can create more complex and visually appealing movements. Paths no longer have to be static; they can evolve, change direction, and even interact with your game’s mechanics in real-time.

Keep pushing the boundaries of what you can do with Godot 4’s powerful PathFollow3D node. With a little creativity and a lot of coding, you can turn good games into great ones. Stay tuned for more tutorials where we’ll dive even deeper into the rabbit hole of game development. Keep coding, keep creating, and let your imagination run wild!

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Conclusion

As we bring our exploration of the dynamic features of Godot 4’s PathFollow3D to a close, remember that your journey in game development is packed with endless possibilities. These tools and techniques are just the beginning, each line of code a stepping stone towards creating the engaging experiences you envision for your players. Embrace the challenges and enjoy the creative process as you bring your virtual worlds to life.

We at Zenva are thrilled to be a part of your development adventure. With our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree, you’re never alone on this journey. Our courses are designed to propel you forward, transforming aspiration into achievement, one game at a time. So, what are you waiting for? The path is laid out before you—take the next step and make your mark in the world of game development with confidence and creativity!

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