PhysicsServer3D in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to our tutorial on Godot 4’s PhysicsServer3D, your gateway to mastering low-level 3D physics in game development! Delving into the intricacies of physics simulation can be a transformative skill for budding game developers and experienced coders alike. By embarking on this journey, you’ll unlock the potential to breathe life and realism into your virtual worlds. Physics simulations can elevate your game’s interactivity and immersion, offering a rich, compelling experience to players. Whether you’re crafting a delicate puzzle platformer or an action-packed adventure, understanding how to manipulate the physics server is key to making your game stand out.

In this tutorial, we will cover the essentials of PhysicsServer3D, Godot’s robust framework for creating and managing physics in 3D space. But before we dive into the how-tos and whys, let’s establish what PhysicsServer3D actually is and explore the possibilities it opens up for your projects.

What is PhysicsServer3D?

PhysicsServer3D is Godot’s dedicated server interface allowing developers direct access to the engine’s physics layer. It’s the backbone of all 3D physics interactions within Godot, responsible for managing various physics objects such as spaces, shapes, bodies, areas, and joints. Unlike higher-level nodes that are tied to the scene tree, objects in PhysicsServer3D can be created and manipulated wholly independently, granting you granular control over your game’s physics.

What is PhysicsServer3D Used For?

PhysicsServer3D’s primary use is providing a comprehensive set of tools for:
– Defining physics spaces, which are self-contained worlds where simulations occur.
– Creating and managing shapes, bodies, and areas that interact within a space.
– Configuring and querying the state of physical objects to check for collisions or intersections.
– Utilizing joints to establish constraints between bodies.
Utilizing this server allows for efficient physics processing and offers custom behavior beyond the standard physics nodes.

Why Should You Learn PhysicsServer3D?

Gaining proficiency in PhysicsServer3D could be a game-changer for your development process. Here’s why you should consider investing time into learning it:
– **Performance**: By working directly with the physics server, you can optimize your game’s performance, allowing for more complex simulations with less overhead.
– **Customization**: You have the power to tailor the physics to your precise preferences, achieving more nuanced and unique physical behaviors that aren’t possible with out-of-the-box nodes.
– **Deep Understanding**: Mastering the underpinnings of Godot’s physics system will give you a deeper understanding of how the engine operates, which is invaluable for troubleshooting and pushing the limits of what your game can do.
– **Transferrable Skills**: The concepts you learn here are not just confined to Godot. They will expand your knowledge of game physics as a whole, benefiting you in any game development environment.

With the stage set, let’s move forward and begin our exploration into the practical uses of PhysicsServer3D.

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Creating a Physics Space

Before we can interact with objects in our 3D world, we need to establish a space where physics simulations will take place. This is fundamental as it sets the stage for all subsequent physics interactions.

var space = PhysicsServer3D.space_create()
PhysicsServer3D.space_set_active(space, true)

In the above snippet, we create a new physics space using the `space_create` method and activate it with `space_set_active`, setting the argument to `true`. This ensures the space is ready to manage physics objects.

Defining Rigid Bodies

Once our space is set up, we can start introducing rigid bodies. These are the basic moving objects that respond to physical forces like gravity and collisions.

var body = PhysicsServer3D.body_create(PhysicsServer3D.BODY_MODE_RIGID)
PhysicsServer3D.body_set_space(body, space)
PhysicsServer3D.body_set_state(body, PhysicsServer3D.BODY_STATE_TRANSFORM, Transform())

The body is created using `body_create` with `BODY_MODE_RIGID` to specify its type. We assign it to our space with `body_set_space` and provide an initial transform using `body_set_state`.

Adding Collision Shapes

A body alone isn’t enough for interactions: it needs a shape to define its collision boundaries. Let’s create a simple collision sphere and attach it to our body.

var shape = PhysicsServer3D.shape_create(PhysicsServer3D.SHAPE_SPHERE)
PhysicsServer3D.shape_set_data(shape, 0.5) # Sphere radius

var shape_owner = PhysicsServer3D.body_create_shape_owner(body)
PhysicsServer3D.body_add_shape(shape_owner, shape, Transform(), false)

We make a spherical shape using `shape_create` and set its radius with `shape_set_data`. The shape is then associated with the body by creating a shape owner with `body_create_shape_owner` and adding the shape to the owner via `body_add_shape`.

Setting Up Collision Detection

With physics bodies and shapes in place, we need to start thinking about detecting collisions. This enables interactive and reactive behaviors in our game objects.

var query_parameters = PhysicsServer3D.make_space_state(space)
var result = PhysicsServer3D.space_state_intersects_shape(query_parameters, shape, Transform(), 1, [], 0, true)

if result.count > 0:
    print("Collision detected")

Using `make_space_state`, we create a snapshot of the physics state of our space. The `space_state_intersects_shape` method checks for intersections with our shape. If we find any collisions (`result.count > 0`), we print out a message as feedback.

Implementing Joints

Joints are important for establishing connections between bodies, which helps in creating complex mechanical interactions like hinges or springs.

var body_1 = PhysicsServer3D.body_create(PhysicsServer3D.BODY_MODE_RIGID)
var body_2 = PhysicsServer3D.body_create(PhysicsServer3D.BODY_MODE_RIGID)
PhysicsServer3D.body_set_space(body_1, space)
PhysicsServer3D.body_set_space(body_2, space)

var joint = PhysicsServer3D.joint_create_hinge(body_1, Transform(), body_2, Transform())

Two bodies are formed and added to the space. Then a hinge joint is created using `joint_create_hinge`, connecting the two bodies with a pivot point that allows for rotation.

Stay tuned as we progress and delve further into practical examples and detailed explanations in the upcoming third part of our tutorial. Our aim is to empower you with the knowledge necessary to craft intricate physics-based interactions in your Godot games.Let’s continue to dig deeper into Godot 4’s PhysicsServer3D. Now that we have the basic components in place, it’s time to explore more advanced functionalities which include querying physics information, applying forces, and dealing with complex interactions.

Querying Physics Information
Understanding the state of our physics bodies at runtime is key for creating dynamic and responsive gameplay. Here’s how you can query for a body’s linear velocity:

var linear_velocity = PhysicsServer3D.body_get_direct_state(body).linear_velocity
print("The body's linear velocity is: ", linear_velocity)

By using the `body_get_direct_state` method, we’re given access to various state properties, such as `linear_velocity`, which we print out to the console.

Applying Forces
To alter the motion of physics bodies, we can apply forces or impulses. If we want to give a body an instant jolt—a useful technique in response to events like explosions—here’s how we can apply an impulse:

var impulse = Vector3(0, 10, 0) # Impulse vector
var position = Vector3() # World position where the impulse is applied
PhysicsServer3D.body_apply_impulse(body, position, impulse)

The `body_apply_impulse` method requires the body reference, the world position where the impulse is applied, and the impulse vector itself.

Modifying Physics Properties
Sometimes, we need to tweak the physical properties of objects, like their mass or friction, to achieve the desired behavior. Let’s change the mass of a body:

var new_mass = 5.0
PhysicsServer3D.body_set_param(body, PhysicsServer3D.BODY_PARAM_MASS, new_mass)

This is accomplished using the `body_set_param` method, where we pass in the reference to the body, the parameter we’re changing (in this case, `BODY_PARAM_MASS`), and the new value.

Handling Areas
Areas are used to detect when bodies enter or exit an invisible zone, which can be useful for triggering events, such as setting off traps or rewarding players.

var area = PhysicsServer3D.area_create()
PhysicsServer3D.area_set_space(area, space)
PhysicsServer3D.area_add_shape(area, shape, Transform())

With `area_create`, we generate an area and then associate it with the space using `area_set_space`. The `area_add_shape` method is used to define the physical shape and size of the area.

Adjusting Gravity in an Area
Areas can also be employed to modify environmental properties like gravity. If our game features a zone with low gravity, here’s how we can make it happen:

var low_gravity_vector = Vector3(0, -2, 0) # A milder gravity effect
PhysicsServer3D.area_set_param(area, PhysicsServer3D.AREA_PARAM_GRAVITY_VECTOR, low_gravity_vector)
PhysicsServer3D.area_set_param(area, PhysicsServer3D.AREA_PARAM_GRAVITY_IS_POINT, false)
PhysicsServer3D.area_set_param(area, PhysicsServer3D.AREA_PARAM_GRAVITY, 1)
PhysicsServer3D.area_set_param(area, PhysicsServer3D.AREA_PARAM_GRAVITY_DISTANCE_SCALE, 0)

We modify the area’s gravity parameters using `area_set_param`, customizing it to our needs. Each subsequent call sets different aspects of the gravity: direction, whether it behaves like point gravity, the force of gravity, and distance scaling.

By commanding Godot’s PhysicsServer3D, we gain the potential to create exceptionally refined and realistic movement and interactions in our 3D games. The level of control offered is unparalleled in higher-level APIs, providing both a challenge and an opportunity for game developers to fine-tune their physics simulation to a tee.

Stay tuned for further tutorials that will take your Godot skills beyond the fundamentals and into the realm of rich, dynamic gameplay design. We at Zenva are committed to equipping you with the knowledge and tools to make your game development journey a success.Now that we’ve covered the basics of manipulating physics properties and working with areas, let’s proceed to explore other features of Godot’s PhysicsServer3D that can be instrumental in bringing more complexity and interactions into your game designs.

Detectors and Reporting Collisions
Collision detectors are pivotal in games for reporting when and where objects collide. Here’s how to set up a simple monitoring system for detecting collisions:

var shape_query = PhysicsServer3D.shape_create(PhysicsServer3D.SHAPE_BOX)
var transform_query = Transform(Basis(), Vector3(0, 1, 0)) # Position of the query

# Perform the collision query
var collision_info = PhysicsServer3D.space_state_intersect_shape(query_parameters, shape_query, transform_query, 1, [], PhysicsServer3D.SPACE_PARAM_BODY_MAX)

if collision_info.count > 0:
    print("Box shape collided at position: ", transform_query.origin)

Moving Kinematic Bodies
Kinematic bodies are special because they need to be moved using code, which makes them perfect for player-controlled characters or objects that must move in specific ways. Let’s move a kinematic body:

var motion = Vector3(1, 0, 0) # Move to the right
PhysicsServer3D.body_set_state(body, PhysicsServer3D.BODY_STATE_TRANSFORM, Transform().translated(motion))

To move the body, we use `body_set_state` and update the transform to a new position by translating it using our motion vector.

Raycasting for Line of Sight
Raycasting can be utilized to determine line of sight, a common feature in games for things like enemy vision or sniper scopes. Here’s a simple raycast setup:

var from_position = Vector3(0, 1, 0)
var to_position = Vector3(10, 1, 0)
var ray_result = PhysicsServer3D.space_state_intersect_ray(query_parameters, from_position, to_position)

if ray_result != null:
    print("Ray collided with object at: ", ray_result.position)

We provide a starting point and an endpoint for the ray. If the ray intersects with an object, the result will contain information about the collision.

Managing Multiple Physics Steps
Sometimes we want to control the physics simulation in more detail, performing multiple steps of physics processing within a frame. Here’s how we might manage this:

var steps = 2 # Number of simulation steps
for i in range(steps):
    PhysicsServer3D.space_set_active(space, true)
    # Call your physics simulation functions here
    # ...

We activate the space, run our physics code, and then step the physics simulation forward, repeating as many times as needed.

Physics Layers and Masks
Using layers and masks can help efficiently manage which objects collide with each other. This is helpful for optimizing performance and gameplay mechanics.

var body_layers = 1<<2 # Third layer
var body_mask = 1 # First layer

PhysicsServer3D.body_set_layer_mask(body, body_layers)
PhysicsServer3D.body_set_collision_mask(body, body_mask)

In this example, we set the body to exist on the third layer and only collide with objects on the first layer.

Syncing Physics to Visuals
After manipulating physics bodies, we need to synchronize their state with the visual representation in the scene:

var body_state = PhysicsServer3D.body_get_direct_state(body)
var node = get_node("path/to/your/visual_node")
node.global_transform = body_state.transform

We grab the state of the body, including its transformation, and apply it to our visual node’s `global_transform` thus keeping the visuals in sync with the physics simulation.

Understanding and utilizing these advanced functionalities of PhysicsServer3D can give you more flexibility and precision when developing complex physics interactions in your games. Remember, each game has unique requirements, so feel free to experiment with these systems to find out what works best for your particular project. Stay creative and let the physics engine be a canvass for your imagination. We at Zenva are excited to see what incredible physics-based features you’ll integrate into your games!

Continue Your Learning Journey in Game Development

Congratulations on taking this significant step towards understanding Godot 4’s PhysicsServer3D! This knowledge opens up a whole new dimension of possibilities for creating rich, interactive 3D environments in your games. To keep building on the solid foundation you’ve established, you might be wondering, “Where do I go next?”

We encourage you to continue your learning journey with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. This comprehensive program is designed for both beginners and more advanced developers looking to broaden their expertise. You will dive into creating cross-platform games, utilize both 2D and 3D assets, and master gameplay mechanics across various styles, including RPGs, RTS, survival games, and platformers. All of this will be achieved using the powerful, flexible, and user-friendly Godot 4 engine.

We understand the thirst for knowledge can be unquenchable, and the field of game development is vast. To cater to all your learning needs, we also invite you to explore our broader array of Godot courses. Zenva offers beginner to professional courses, allowing you to learn at your own pace and eventually transition from an enthusiast to a professional game developer. With Zenva, you’re not just learning – you’re creating, you’re achieving, and you’re paving your way to a successful career in the game development industry. So, grab the opportunity and let the adventure continue!


In this exploration of Godot 4’s PhysicsServer3D, you’ve acquired the tools and understanding necessary to simulate complex physics interactions with precision and flexibility. You are now equipped to take your game development skills to new heights, crafting worlds that are not just visually captivating but also rich in dynamic, believable physics. Remember, the power of a truly immersive gameplay experience is often hidden in the subtleties of movement and interaction, and what you learned here can be pivotal in achieving that.

Don’t let your progress stop here. Harness the momentum you’ve built and continue to expand your game development prowess with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. Together, we will turn your creativity into reality, project by project, line by line of code. Your journey to becoming a master game developer is just getting started, and at Zenva, we’re thrilled to accompany you every step of the way. Join us, and let’s bring your game concepts to life.

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