RayCast3D in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to our exploratory journey into the realm of 3D game development with Godot 4, the popular open-source game engine. In this tutorial, we’ll dive into the RayCast3D class, a powerful tool that allows your in-game objects to perceive their environment. From crafting immersive worlds to fine-tuning gameplay mechanics, understanding RayCast3D can enhance your game creation experience.

What Is RayCast3D?

RayCast3D is a component in the Godot engine that represents an invisible ray extending from a point in 3D space towards a specified direction. It can detect CollisionObject3Ds along its path, which includes both static and dynamic objects within a 3D environment.

What Is It For?

Utilizing RayCast3D, developers can implement a variety of features in their games, such as:

  • Shoot a laser or projectile in a first-person shooter.
  • Assess whether a character can reach a ledge for climbing.
  • Determine visibility between characters or items for AI perception.

Why Should I Learn It?

Learning how to use RayCast3D is essential for 3D game developers because it opens up a myriad of possibilities for gameplay mechanics within the Godot engine. This knowledge enables you to:

  • Create more realistic and responsive game environments.
  • Build complex and nuanced interactions between game elements.
  • Gain granular control over the events and triggers within your game world.

By mastering RayCast3D, you take a significant step towards leveraging the full potential of Godot 4, and equip yourself with the skills to bring your imaginative game concepts to life.

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Setting Up RayCast3D

To begin using RayCast3D, you first need to add a RayCast3D node to your scene. This node will not be visible in the game but will be a critical component for detecting objects within the game world.

# First, add a RayCast3D node to your scene:
var raycast = RayCast3D.new()

# Then, you need to set its properties, such as the cast_to position, which determines the direction and distance of the ray.
raycast.cast_to = Vector3(0, -1, 0) # Ray pointing downwards
raycast.enabled = true # Make sure the ray is enabled

# Finally, add it as a child to the node from which you want to cast:

Once the RayCast3D node is added and properly configured, you are ready to start using it for collision detection.

Checking for Collisions

With the RayCast3D node set up, you can perform collision checks to see if the ray has hit an object. This is usually done within the _process function or wherever you need to check for real-time collision detection.

# In your script's process function or any method:
func _process(delta):
    if raycast.is_colliding():
         # A collision with an object has occurred!
         var collider = raycast.get_collider()
         print("Hit: ", collider.name)

This will print the name of the collider object that the ray has intersected with, if a collision is detected. This is useful for identifying the objects that come into contact with the ray.

Retrieving Collision Information

Beyond simply detecting collisions, you can extract detailed information about the nature of the collision, like the exact point of impact or the normal of the surface the ray hit. This is crucial for more complex logic, like reflecting projectiles or aligning objects to surfaces.

# Retrieve the collision point and normal:
if raycast.is_colliding():
    var collision_point = raycast.get_collision_point()
    var collision_normal = raycast.get_collision_normal()

    # You may use this information, for example, to spawn a decal or an impact effect at the collision point.
    spawn_impact_effect(collision_point, collision_normal)

Using this additional collision data can help simulate physical phenomena or simply improve the visual feedback within the game world.

Adjusting RayCast3D Parameters

You also have control over the behavior of RayCast3D during runtime. For example, you can dynamically change the length of the ray or its direction, based on the current context or gameplay mechanics.

# Adjust the ray's cast_to property to change its length and direction on the fly:
func adjust_ray_length(new_length):
    raycast.cast_to = raycast.cast_to.normalized() * new_length

# Toggle the ray's enabled state, which can be useful if you want to activate it only under certain conditions:
func toggle_ray(active):
    raycast.enabled = active

Through the adjustment of these parameters, you can adapt the RayCast3D functionality to a variety of scenarios, such as targeting systems or dynamic obstacle avoidance.

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of setting up and manipulating RayCast3D in Godot 4, we’ll move on in our next tutorial to cover more advanced applications and best practices.

Embarking on the third section, let’s expand our expertise in using RayCast3D in Godot 4 by exploring additional code examples and applications. These examples will demonstrate the versatility of RayCast3D and its integration into various gameplay elements.

Using RayCast3D with Mouse Input

RayCast3D can be combined with mouse input to create interactive scenes where the player can interact with objects using the cursor, which is a common requirement for FPS or strategy games.

func _input(event):
    if event is InputEventMouseButton and event.button_index == BUTTON_LEFT and event.pressed:
        # Calculate the ray to the point under the mouse
        var camera = get_node("Camera3D")
        var mouse_position = event.position
        var from = camera.project_ray_origin(mouse_position)
        var to = from + camera.project_ray_normal(mouse_position) * 1000
        raycast.cast_to = to - from
        raycast.force_raycast_update() # Force update to process the new cast_to immediately
        if raycast.is_colliding():
            var hit_object = raycast.get_collider()
            print("You clicked on: ", hit_object.name)

This code snippet creates a ray from the camera through the mouse position when the left mouse button is pressed. It then checks if there’s a collision and prints the name of the collided object.

Implementing Lasers and Projectiles

RayCast3D nodes are incredibly useful for instant-hit weaponry like lasers. Here’s how you can use RayCast3D to simulate a laser hit:

func fire_laser():
    if raycast.is_colliding():
        var hit_position = raycast.get_collision_point()
        var hit_normal = raycast.get_collision_normal()
        create_laser_beam(global_transform.origin, hit_position)

This method determines where the laser should terminate and potentially applies damage to the object it hits.

Line-of-Sight and Stealth Mechanics

For stealth-based gameplay, determining whether an enemy can see the player is critical. Here’s an example using RayCast3D:

func can_see_player(player):
    raycast.cast_to = player.global_transform.origin - global_transform.origin
    return raycast.is_colliding() and raycast.get_collider() == player

This function updates the direction of the ray towards the player and checks if the first object hit by the ray is indeed the player, indicative of a clear line-of-sight.

Physics Interactions

RayCast3D can also be used for physics-based interactions. As an example, let’s push rigid bodies with a ray:

func push_objects(strength):
    if raycast.is_colliding():
        var body = raycast.get_collider()
        if body is RigidBody:
            var push_direction = raycast.cast_to.normalized()
            body.apply_impulse(Vector3(), push_direction * strength)

This code checks if the ray hit a RigidBody, and then applies an impulse in the direction of the ray, simulating a pushing force.

Platform Detection for AI

In platforming games, AI characters may need to detect edges to turn around or avoid falling. Here’s an example using RayCast3D:

func check_for_platform_end():
    raycast.cast_to = Vector3(0, -1, 0) # pointing downwards relative to character
    if not raycast.is_colliding():

By casting a ray downward, the AI can detect if there is ground beneath and turn around if necessary, avoiding falling off edges.

These examples demonstrate how RayCast3D can be a pivotal feature in Godot 4 for creating engaging gameplay and immersive experiences. Through practical implementation of this tool, developers can address a diverse range of game design challenges and elevate the level of interactivity within their games.

Moving forward with our deep dive into advanced uses of RayCast3D, we’ll present a variety of code snippets that demonstrate its flexibility and power. These snippets will show how RayCast3D can be an invaluable asset in enhancing your game’s mechanics.

Let’s introduce a scenario involving terrain height detection to adjust a character’s position accordingly:

func adjust_to_terrain():
    # Assume the ray is pointing downward relative to the character
    if raycast.is_colliding():
        var hit_info = raycast.get_collision_point()
        var terrain_height = hit_info.y
        # Adjust the y position of the character to the terrain height
        position.y = terrain_height

This snippet ensures that a character stays aligned with varying heights of terrain, creating a more realistic movement over hills and valleys.

Enhancing player interaction with the environment, we can use RayCast3D to pick up items:

func pick_up_item():
    if raycast.is_colliding():
        var item = raycast.get_collider()
        if "item" in item:
            item.queue_free() # Remove item from the scene

When the player aims at an item and activates the RayCast3D, this script adds the item to the inventory and removes it from the scene.

Adding environmental hazards is also a common game mechanic. Here’s how RayCast3D can trigger a trap:

func check_for_traps():
    if raycast.is_colliding() and "trap" in raycast.get_collider():

Here, the RayCast3D detection for traps will trigger a function to activate the trap, possibly causing damage or an effect on the player.

Designing puzzling elements in games can also benefit from RayCast3D, like using mirrors to reflect lasers:

func reflect_laser():
    var max_bounces = 5
    var current_bounces = 0
    var laser_direction = initial_laser_direction

    while current_bounces < max_bounces and raycast.is_colliding():
        var hit = raycast.get_collider()
        if "reflective" in hit:
            var hit_normal = raycast.get_collision_normal()
            laser_direction = laser_direction.bounce(hit_normal)
            raycast.cast_to = laser_direction
            current_bounces += 1
            break # Hit a non-reflective surface

By calculating reflection vectors, this code can simulate a laser beam bouncing off multiple reflective surfaces.

Lastly, for a navigation system, RayCast3D can assist AI in avoiding obstacles:

func avoid_obstacles():
    raycast.cast_to = Vector3(1, 0, 0) # Cast to the right
    var right_blocked = raycast.is_colliding()

    raycast.cast_to = Vector3(-1, 0, 0) # Cast to the left
    var left_blocked = raycast.is_colliding()

    if right_blocked and not left_blocked:
        # Move left to avoid the obstacle
    elif left_blocked and not right_blocked:
        # Move right to avoid the obstacle

This snippet uses RayCast3D to check for obstacles on both sides of an AI character and chooses a clear direction to take accordingly, enhancing the AI’s ability to navigate through environments.

These examples highlight the many creative ways to integrate the RayCast3D node into various aspects of game design and mechanics. Through practical application, RayCast3D proves to be a robust tool for adding depth and realism to interactions within your games. Each example presented here can serve as a foundational block in developing complex systems or serve as inspirational sparks for your own unique implementations.

Continuing Your Game Development Journey with Zenva

Your adventure in mastering RayCast3D within the Godot 4 engine is just the beginning. To continue expanding your game development skills and explore the endless possibilities of the Godot engine, we invite you to delve into the comprehensive learning experience we offer through our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. This collection of courses is expertly crafted to cover not only the fundamentals but also the more complex aspects of game design across a variety of genres.

Whether you’re starting out or building on existing knowledge, our curriculum is designed to walk you through essential concepts and practical implementations, enabling you to create cross-platform games and build an impressive portfolio of real Godot projects.

For those eager to explore even broader horizons, visit our extensive range of Godot courses. Our content spans from beginner to professional levels, ensuring a learning path tailored to your needs. Take the next step with Zenva and solidify your place in the game development industry.


Through this tutorial, you’ve taken a significant step in enhancing your 3D game development skills with Godot 4, exploring the versatile functionality of RayCast3D. We’ve covered a range of applications, from simple collision detection to complex gameplay mechanics, illustrating just how essential this tool is for creating dynamic and interactive game experiences. Now, with the foundation laid, the path to game development mastery beckons.

Keep leveling up your expertise with Zenva’s Godot Game Development Mini-Degree, and join the ranks of successful developers who’ve started their journeys with us. Continue to challenge yourself, explore new boundaries, and turn your game development dreams into reality. The world of Godot awaits, and we’re here to help you conquer it, one node at a time.

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