Time in Godot – Complete Guide

Understanding time and its manifolds is crucial in any game development process. Whether it’s about controlling spawn rates, animations, or day-night cycles, time plays a fundamental role in bringing dynamism and realism to your games. In this tutorial, we will delve into the Time class in Godot 4, a powerful yet easy-to-use tool that can help manage time-related functions in your games.

What is the Time Class in Godot 4?

The Time class is a singleton in Godot 4, designed to work with time data efficiently. It assists in converting time between various formats and obtaining time information from the system. It’s built with compliance to the ISO 8601 standards, ensuring a high level of consistency and reliability for any time-related operations in your game projects.

What is it for?

Time-related functions are diverse and can include anything from tracking the in-game calendar, scheduling events in real-time, to regulating the motion based on elapsed time. The Time class in Godot 4 provides an array of methods to fetch, manipulate, and convert time data, keeping gameplay elements in perfect sync with the time and making the gaming experience seamless for players.

Why Should I Learn It?

Having a solid understanding of the Time class equips game developers with the skills to:

– Implement accurate timing mechanics
– Synchronize events with real-world time
– Handle time zones and daylight saving time
– Create rich and interactive environments influenced by time

By learning and mastering the Time class, you’ll take a significant step forward in crafting engaging and professionally timed experiences within your games. Let’s get started on this journey and understand how to bring the element of time to life in Godot 4.

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Fetching Current System Time

To begin leveraging the Time class in Godot 4, you first need to know how to fetch the current system time. This is essential for any time-based events or time displays you want to incorporate in your game.

var current_time = Time.get_system_time()

This line of code retrieves the current system time and prints it to the console. You may use this to display the current time in-game or as a part of a timer system.

Converting Time to Different Formats

Sometimes you may need to display the time in a format that is more suitable for your game’s interface or logic. Here’s how you can convert time to a few different formats using the Time class.

# Convert current system time to a struct
var time_struct = Time.get_system_time_as_struct()

# Convert current system time to just the date
var current_date = Time.get_system_date()

# Convert current system time to just the time
var current_time_only = Time.get_system_time_only()

With these code examples, you can extract and manipulate various components of time, such as hours, minutes, seconds, or the date, to fit the context of your game.

Working with ISO 8601 Format

Godot 4’s compliance with ISO 8601 standards means you can easily convert time to and from this internationally recognized format, which is useful for saving and loading times in a consistent format.

# Convert current system time to ISO 8601 format
var iso_time = Time.get_system_time_iso()

# Convert ISO 8601 format back to a Time struct
var from_iso_time = Time.parse_iso_time(iso_time)

ISO 8601 format is beneficial for networking or saving game state; by using this standard, you ensure time data is unambiguous and easily transferable.

Calculating Time Difference

Often, you’ll want to calculate the time difference between two events in your game. The Time class helps you compare times and determine the time elapsed.

# Fetch two different system times
var start_time = Time.get_system_time()
# Some game event happens here, causing a delay or lapse in time.
var end_time = Time.get_system_time()

# Calculate the difference in seconds
var time_difference = end_time - start_time

Here, we captured the start and end times of an event and then printed the difference. This can be used for tracking high scores, racing games, or any scenario where timing is a crucial element.

In the next part, we’ll dive into scheduling and manipulating game events based on elapsed time and other time-related functions. These code examples give you a solid foundation for working with time, but there’s so much more you can do. Stay tuned to enhance your mastery of time in Godot 4.

Scheduling Events with Timers

Godot 4 provides a convenient way to schedule events using Timer nodes. Here is a basic example of how you can set up a timer to execute code after a delay.

# First, add a Timer node to your scene and access it in your script
var my_timer = Timer.new()
my_timer.wait_time = 5 # Timer will wait for 5 seconds
my_timer.one_shot = true # Timer will stop after it triggers once

# Now connect the timer's `timeout` signal to a function that executes your desired event
my_timer.connect("timeout", self, "_on_Timer_timeout")

func _on_Timer_timeout():
    print("Timer finished! Event triggered.")

In this example, after the Timer counts down from 5 seconds, it will print a message to the console.

Utilizing Delta Time in Game Loops

Delta time is vital in game loops to ensure smooth and time-independent movement or actions. Here’s how you might use delta time within Godot’s `_process` function.

var speed = 100 # Pixels per second

func _process(delta):
    var movement = Vector2(speed, 0) * delta
    position += movement

We use the `delta` argument, which is the time elapsed since the last frame, to calculate a frame rate-independent movement.

Countdown Timers

Creating a countdown timer is a common requirement for games, used for events like time-limited challenges or explosives with a fuse. Here’s how you could implement a simple countdown timer:

var countdown_time = 10 # 10 seconds countdown

func _process(delta):
    if countdown_time > 0:
        countdown_time -= delta
        print("Time's up!")

The countdown timer subtracts the delta time each frame and, once it reaches zero, prints “Time’s up!”.

Manipulating Time

There are situations when you need to manipulate the flow of time, perhaps to create a slow-motion effect. Godot 4 allows you to modify the time scale to achieve this.

# Slow down time by half
Engine.time_scale = 0.5

# Return to normal speed
Engine.time_scale = 1.0

# Pause time entirely
Engine.time_scale = 0.0

This comes in handy for adding dramatic effects or giving the player the feel of a more responsive control environment when reactions times are critical.


With these examples, you’re now equipped to handle different aspects of time in your Godot 4 projects. Understanding and using the Time class will help you create more polished, professional, and interactive gaming experiences.

Stay creative, experiment with time, and remember time management is as vital in game development as it is in gameplay. Whether you’re building a race against the clock, coordinating event triggers, or simply animating a sunset, the command of time is an incredible tool in your developer’s toolkit. Enjoy crafting your games with the power of time in Godot 4, and keep an eye on Zenva for more tutorials that help you level up your game development skills.Maintaining a consistent and engaging gameplay experience often demands advanced time manipulation techniques. Let’s explore more complex scenarios where Godot 4’s Time class and Timer nodes can be utilized to enhance your game’s mechanics and user experience.

Implementing Cooldowns

Cooldowns are common in games, particularly in the action or strategy genres, where they limit how often a player can use an ability or item. Here’s how you could implement a basic cooldown system in Godot 4:

var cooldown_time = 3 # Cooldown time in seconds
var can_use_ability = true

func use_ability():
    if can_use_ability:
        print("Ability used!")
        can_use_ability = false
        # Start the cooldown
        Timer.new().name = "AbilityCooldown"
        get_node("AbilityCooldown").wait_time = cooldown_time
        get_node("AbilityCooldown").one_shot = true
        get_node("AbilityCooldown").connect("timeout", self, "_on_AbilityCooldown_timeout")

func _on_AbilityCooldown_timeout():
    can_use_ability = true

This code will regulate the use of abilities ensuring that once an ability is used, it cannot be used again until after a specific cooldown period has elapsed.

Animating with Delta Time

Animation often needs to be smooth and frame rate independent. You can animate properties such as position, rotation, or scale using delta time to ensure consistent timing regardless of the frame rate. Here’s an example of animating a node’s rotation:

var rotation_speed = 1.0 # Rotation speed per second

func _process(delta):
    rotation_degrees += rotation_speed * delta

As `rotation_degrees` is updated, it uses the delta time, which means the rotation speed is consistent no matter the frame rate.

Handling Day-Night Cycles

Day-night cycles add a dynamic element to games that can affect gameplay and ambiance. Here’s a simple way to implement a basic day-night cycle:

var day_length = 60 # Day length in seconds
var current_time_of_day = 0

func _ready():
    Timer.new().name = "DayNightTimer"
    get_node("DayNightTimer").wait_time = day_length
    get_node("DayNightTimer").connect("timeout", self, "_on_DayNightTimer_timeout")

func _on_DayNightTimer_timeout():
    # Toggle between day and night
    if is_daytime:
        # Change to night
        is_daytime = false
        # Update game world to nighttime
        # Change to day
        is_daytime = true
        # Update game world to daytime

This cycle continually triggers a switch between day and night states, which you can expand upon to include visual and gameplay effects.

Syncing Animations with Music

If you have rhythm-based elements or want animations synced to music, timing is everything. Here’s a snippet to synchronize a simple animation with a beat:

# Assuming you have a `MusicStreamPlayer` node with your beat
var beat_duration = 1.0 # Duration of a beat in seconds
var beat_timer = Timer.new()

func _ready():
    beat_timer.connect("timeout", self, "_on_beat")
    beat_timer.wait_time = beat_duration

func _on_beat():
    # Trigger animation or game event on beat

Now your game can have events or animations trigger precisely on each beat of the music.

Using Tweens for Smooth Time-Based Interpolation

Godot’s Tween node is a powerful tool for smooth time-based interpolation. Here’s a simple example of using a Tween to interpolate the position of a node from one point to another:

var tween = Tween.new()
var start_position = Vector2(0, 0)
var end_position = Vector2(100, 100)
var duration = 2.0 # Time in seconds to reach the end position

tween.interpolate_property(self, "position", start_position, end_position, duration, Tween.TRANS_LINEAR, Tween.EASE_IN_OUT)

Using tweens allows for complex animations and movements to be easily time-controlled with minimal code.

These code examples illustrate just a few of the ways that Godot 4’s timing tools can be applied to add depth and complexity to your gameplay. Time is an integral component that when harnessed correctly, can transform a good game into a great one. By thoroughly understanding and implementing proper timing and rhythm in your projects, you ensure a seamless and responsive gaming experience for your players. Happy coding, and remember, time is always of the essence in game development!

Continuing Your Learning Journey in Game Development

The world of game development is constantly evolving, offering an endless path of learning and creativity. If you’ve enjoyed exploring the intricacies of time manipulation and other gameplay mechanics in Godot 4, why not delve even deeper?

We highly recommend checking out our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree for those of you eager to further expand your skills. This comprehensive collection of courses has been crafted to cover various essential topics, from using 2D and 3D assets to player and enemy combat, as well as constructing complex UI systems and engaging game mechanics for different genres.

For a more broad exploration of Godot’s capabilities, visit our broad array of Godot courses. Our content caters to both newcomers and skilled developers, so no matter where you find yourself on the learning curve, you’ll find something to help you grow. Your journey into game development doesn’t end here—take the next step with Zenva, and continue building the future of your dreams today.


Your adventure through the realms of time in Godot 4 has only just begun. The power to control and manipulate time within a digital world is not just a skill—it’s an art that can distinguish a good game developer from a great one. Whether you’re looking to refine the mechanics of a turn-based strategy, create a rhythm game that pulses to the beat, or captivate players with the changing light of day and night, time is your canvas, and Godot 4 offers the brushes.

Don’t let the hands of the clock stop here; continue to expand your knowledge and expertise with us at Zenva. Dive into our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree and unlock the door to a comprehensive learning experience that is certain to elevate your game development skills to new heights. This journey is yours for the taking—embrace the challenges ahead, and let’s create something extraordinary together.

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