PlaceholderTextureLayered in Godot – Complete Guide

Embarking on a journey to master game development can be as thrilling as the games we aspire to create. When delving into the technical depths of game engines like Godot 4, understanding the tools and resources at our disposal is key to turning our creative visions into playable realities. Today, we’ll explore the PlaceholderTextureLayered class – an intriguing aspect of Godot 4 that, while may not be a star on the stage of game assets, plays a critical role behind the curtains. Get ready to unveil the mysteries of this class, and learn how it can impact your Godot projects, particularly when dealing with different builds or server constraints.

What is PlaceholderTextureLayered?

The PlaceholderTextureLayered class is a unique entity in Godot 4’s extensive library of assets, inheriting the functionality of TextureLayered. While it may not be used for rendering actual textures, it serves as a stand-in when specific project conditions arise. It is designed to occupy the space of more complex TextureLayered subclasses such as PlaceholderCubemap, PlaceholderCubemapArray, or PlaceholderTexture2DArray.

What is PlaceholderTextureLayered Used For?

This class becomes particularly useful in two specific scenarios: when you’re running an exported project on a dedicated server, and when a TextureLayered subclass is missing due to a different version or build of the engine. By retaining only the dimensions of the texture, it aids in optimizing the PCK’s size while ensuring elements dependent on texture size still function correctly.

Why Should I Learn About It?

Understanding PlaceholderTextureLayered can be vital for developers looking to optimize their game for various platforms and builds, including dedicated servers. It offers an invaluable insight into the engine’s behavior in certain conditions, allowing for a smoother game development process. Having this knowledge in your toolkit can save time during deployment and ensure your game runs efficiently across different setups. Let’s dive deeper and begin coding with this class, seeing firsthand how it can be incorporated into your projects.

CTA Small Image
FREE COURSES AT ZENVA
LEARN GAME DEVELOPMENT, PYTHON AND MORE
ACCESS FOR FREE
AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY

Creating a PlaceholderTextureLayered Instance

To get started with the PlaceholderTextureLayered class in Godot 4, we need to create an instance. This can be done by using the new function in GDScript. This basic setup gets us ready to use the placeholder in our project.

var placeholder_texture = PlaceholderTextureLayered.new()

Once we have the instance, we can set its size. For demonstration, let’s specify a texture size of 256×256 pixels. This size mimics a typical texture that might be used for a variety of assets in a game.

placeholder_texture.width = 256
placeholder_texture.height = 256

Applying the Placeholder to a Material

After creating the placeholder texture, the intention is to use it within materials that are applied to 3D objects. Let’s assume we have a SimpleMaterial. We would set the albedo texture of the material to be our placeholder texture.

var material = SimpleMaterial.new()
material.albedo_texture = placeholder_texture

In the case where we want the placeholder to represent a cubemap or an array texture, we can specify the type during initialization. Here’s how you define a cubemap placeholder.

placeholder_texture.layered_type = PlaceholderTextureLayered.TEXTURE_LAYERED_CUBEMAP

Handling Different Engine Versions or Builds

When your game faces a scenario where assets are not consistent across different engine versions or builds, we can validate and swap textures at runtime. Below is an example of how to check if the actual texture loaded is a PlaceholderTextureLayered instance and handle it accordingly.

if my_loaded_texture is PlaceholderTextureLayered:
    # Replace with an appropriate texture or notify for missing asset
    my_loaded_texture = load("res://path/to/default_texture.png")

This approach helps us gracefully manage missing assets and avoid runtime errors, ensuring a more robust game experience across different versions and platforms.

Exporting Project for Dedicated Servers

While preparing your game for export, particularly for dedicated server environments, you may choose to use placeholders to reduce package size. Here’s how you could implement a script to automate the swapping of textures for placeholders upon export.

func replace_textures_with_placeholders():
    var all_materials = get_all_materials_in_project()
    for material in all_materials:
        if material.has_texture():
            var new_placeholder = PlaceholderTextureLayered.new()
            new_placeholder.width = material.get_texture().get_width()
            new_placeholder.height = material.get_texture().get_height()
            material.albedo_texture = new_placeholder

This script would loop through all materials in the project, and if a texture is present, it would duplicate its dimensions using a placeholder, ensuring the material’s parameters that depend on texture size remain unaffected.

In this segment, we’ve laid down the groundwork for using the PlaceholderTextureLayered class effectively. Stay tuned for the next part where we’ll dive deeper into more advanced uses of this class, ensuring you’re equipped to handle varied game development scenarios with confidence.Let’s delve further into advanced situations where PlaceholderTextureLayered aids in the game development process. Imagine handling a large game project where numerous high-quality textures significantly contribute to the overall file size. By strategically replacing these with placeholder textures during certain stages, we optimize build times and maintain a fluid workflow.

Automating Placeholder Texture Replacement

Automating the replacement of textures with placeholders for non-graphical builds (like server builds) can be done with a more comprehensive script. Here’s an extended example that targets all 3D objects within our game that have a MeshInstance with a material, ensuring consistent treatment across the project.

func replace_mesh_textures_with_placeholders():
    var mesh_instances = get_all_mesh_instances_in_project()
    for mesh_instance in mesh_instances:
        var material = mesh_instance.get_surface_material(0)
        if material and material.has_method("set_albedo_texture"):
            var texture_placeholder = PlaceholderTextureLayered.new()
            texture_placeholder.width = 4 # Minimum valid texture size
            texture_placeholder.height = 4 # Minimum valid texture size
            material.set_albedo_texture(texture_placeholder)

By keeping the placeholder dimensions as minimal as possible (in this case, 4×4 pixels), we can drastically reduce the server build size without interfering with material parameter dependencies on texture dimensions.

Dynamic Placeholder Texture Management

In a development environment, we sometimes need to load different types of textures based on the platform or build configuration. PlaceholderTextureLayered objects can be dynamically created and managed using conditional logic within our scripts.

if OS.get_name() == "Server":
    # Use placeholders for server builds
    var server_placeholder = PlaceholderTextureLayered.new()
    server_placeholder.width = 4
    server_placeholder.height = 4
    # Apply placeholder texture to the material
    material.albedo_texture = server_placeholder
else:
    # Load the full textures for client builds
    var client_texture = preload("res://textures/my_texture.png")
    material.albedo_texture = client_texture

This conditional check ensures that only minimal placeholder textures are used for server builds, while client builds receive the full visual fidelity with the actual textures.

On-the-Fly Texture Replacement

Sometimes, we may need to replace or update textures during runtime, such as when downloading updates or managing streaming assets. Placeholders can play a role in these transitional states by providing a temporary visual until the final asset is ready.

func update_texture_on_the_fly(path_to_new_texture):
    var placeholder = material.albedo_texture
    if placeholder is PlaceholderTextureLayered:
        # Begin loading the new texture
        var texture_resource = ResourceLoader.load_interactive(path_to_new_texture)
        while not texture_resource.poll():
            # Can process a loading bar update here
            pass
        # Replace placeholder with the newly loaded texture
        material.albedo_texture = texture_resource.get_resource()

Executing this method would allow the game to continue to run while new textures are being loaded, all the while the placeholder keeps the game visually coherent.

Visibility Checks and Optimization

There are times when different levels of texture detail aren’t necessary, such as when objects are far away from the camera. Swap in a placeholder until the object is at a distance where higher detail is required.

func _process(delta):
    if mesh_instance.global_transform.origin.distance_to(camera.global_transform.origin) > LOD_DISTANCE:
        # Object is far away, use a placeholder texture
        if not (mesh_instance.get_surface_material(0).albedo_texture is PlaceholderTextureLayered):
            var placeholder = PlaceholderTextureLayered.new()
            placeholder.width = 4
            placeholder.height = 4
            mesh_instance.get_surface_material(0).albedo_texture = placeholder
    else: 
        # Object is close enough, ensure full texture is loaded
        if mesh_instance.get_surface_material(0).albedo_texture is PlaceholderTextureLayered:
            var full_texture = preload("res://path/to/full_texture.png")
            mesh_instance.get_surface_material(0).albedo_texture = full_texture

This level-of-detail (LOD) management ensures we’re only using high-resolution textures when they’re actually needed, which can improve performance in resource-intensive scenes.

Working with PlaceholderTextureLayered in Godot 4 can provide significant optimization advantages and maintain consistency during development and production builds. Whether you’re managing server builds, transitioning between textures, or implementing LOD strategies, the PlaceholderTextureLayered class is a subtle yet powerful tool in your Godot development arsenal. By incorporating these strategies into your workflow, you not only enhance efficiency but also ensure a more reliable and scalable game project.Continuing our exploration of PlaceholderTextureLayered, there are numerous strategies we can deploy to keep control over our game’s textures, especially during periods of asset tweaking or when our game is under heavy optimization. Below are additional code examples and their contexts to further demonstrate the diverse applications of PlaceholderTextureLayered in Godot 4.

Applying Placeholders During Asset Tweak Periods

Asset tweaking is a common phase in game development where artists refine textures and materials for final production. During this period, developers can work with placeholder textures to reduce iteration times.

var tweak_mode = true

func handle_asset_tweaking(material):
    if tweak_mode and not (material.albedo_texture is PlaceholderTextureLayered):
        var placeholder = PlaceholderTextureLayered.new()
        placeholder.width = 4
        placeholder.height = 4
        material.albedo_texture = placeholder
    elif !tweak_mode and (material.albedo_texture is PlaceholderTextureLayered):
        var final_texture = preload("res://textures/my_final_texture.png")
        material.albedo_texture = final_texture

This function can toggle between placeholder and final textures depending on the tweak mode flag. It’s a simple but effective way to keep the development process agile.

Preserving Placeholder Data

In situations where a placeholder is temporary, we may want to store its dimensions to reapply the same size when swapping back to the placeholder texture.

var placeholder_size = Vector2()

func save_placeholder_data(placeholder):
    placeholder_size.x = placeholder.width
    placeholder_size.y = placeholder.height

func reapply_placeholder(material):
    var new_placeholder = PlaceholderTextureLayered.new()
    new_placeholder.width = placeholder_size.x
    new_placeholder.height = placeholder_size.y
    material.albedo_texture = new_placeholder

Storing placeholder dimension in a variable enables us to maintain a consistent size when creating new placeholders.

Replacing Lower Quality Textures Under Memory Constraints

For mobile or web-based games, memory constraints are a significant concern. During runtime, if we detect memory usage is high, we can replace textures with placeholders to free up resources.

func check_and_replace_for_memory_savings(material):
    if OS.get_static_memory_usage() > MAX_MEMORY_THRESHOLD:
        var new_placeholder = PlaceholderTextureLayered.new()
        new_placeholder.width = 4
        new_placeholder.height = 4
        material.albedo_texture = new_placeholder

By regularly checking the memory usage and swapping out high-memory textures, you can avoid crashes and keep gameplay smooth.

Seqential Asset Loading with Placeholders

In games with large worlds or many assets, it might be necessary to load textures sequentially rather than all at once. We can use placeholders to ensure the game world appears intact while textures are loaded in the background.

func load_textures_sequentially(materials_array):
    for material in materials_array:
        # Apply placeholder texture immediately
        material.albedo_texture = create_placeholder_texture()

        # Load the actual texture in a deferred or background process
        var texture_path = material.get_meta("original_texture_path")
        var deferred_texture_loader = Thread.new()
        deferred_texture_loader.start(self, "load_texture_thread", [material, texture_path])

func load_texture_thread(material, path):
    var texture = preload(path)
    # Replace placeholder with actual texture upon completion
    material.albedo_texture = texture

Starting background threads to load the actual textures allows for a non-blocking game experience, with placeholders filling in until the textures are fully ready.

Handling Multiple Textures per Object

Often a single object might have multiple materials, each with its own texture. We can batch replace all textures with placeholders for such cases.

func replace_object_textures_with_placeholders(mesh_instance):
    var materials_count = mesh_instance.get_surface_material_count()
    for i in range(materials_count):
        var material = mesh_instance.get_surface_material(i)
        if material:
            var placeholder = create_placeholder_texture()
            material.albedo_texture = placeholder

func create_placeholder_texture():
    var placeholder = PlaceholderTextureLayered.new()
    placeholder.width = 4
    placeholder.height = 4
    return placeholder

While mesh instances have multiple textures, by iterating over them, we can make a sweeping optimization pass over the object.

With these additional strategies and use cases, we can see that PlaceholderTextureLayered is not just a technical detail, but a versatile tool that can be adapted to various developmental necessities. From smoothing out optimization workflows to managing real-time constraints, PlaceholderTextureLayered is an understated yet potent component of Godot 4 that can facilitate more efficient, streamlined game development processes.

Continue Your Game Development Journey with Zenva

Embarking on the path of learning game development is an adventure filled with new challenges and discoveries at every turn. With the foundational knowledge of Godot 4 and aspects like the PlaceholderTextureLayered class, you’re well on your way to creating immersive game worlds that captivate players. To keep this momentum going and enhance your skillset further, we invite you to explore our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. This curriculum is meticulously crafted to guide you through building cross-platform games, covering essential topics such as working with 2D and 3D assets, mastering GDScript, and refining gameplay mechanics.

Whether you’re starting with no programming experience or looking to deepen your existing knowledge, our project-based lessons provide a flexible learning approach to help you develop robust skills. Through hands-on projects, you’ll not only learn theoretical concepts but also apply them to create a diverse portfolio of real Godot projects. The Godot 4 engine, with its open-source nature and strong community support, is the perfect sandbox for your creativity.

For those eager to broaden their horizons even further, our wider range of Godot courses offers a full spectrum of learning materials to suit your individual goals. Dive into any of these courses and continuously build up your capabilities, turning your game development dreams into tangible realities. With Zenva, your journey from beginner to professional is just a click away – reshape your career, create captivating games, and earn certificates all at your own pace.

Conclusion

Your voyage through the realms of game development is full of opportunities to innovate and create experiences that resonate with players around the globe. As you’ve seen from exploring classes like PlaceholderTextureLayered in Godot 4, diving deep into the engine’s features unlocks a universe of possibilities for optimization and ingenuity. Remember, the tools and techniques you acquire are the very pixels that will paint your unique gaming masterpiece.

We at Zenva are committed to providing you with the keys to this vast kingdom of knowledge, offering courses that are not just lessons, but stepping stones to building dreams. Stand tall on these stones, reach out, and shape your game development future with confidence and creativity. Continue learning, continue creating, and keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in interactive entertainment.

FREE COURSES
Python Blog Image

FINAL DAYS: Unlock coding courses in Unity, Godot, Unreal, Python and more.