Vector3 in Godot – Complete Guide

Thrilled to dive into the intricate world of game development, are you? Today, we’re going to peel back the layers of a fundamental concept that breathes life into our virtual worlds: the Vector3. This nifty little data structure packs a punch, serving as the backbone for positioning, moving, and calculating spatial relationships within 3D environments.

Within the scope of Godot 4, an open-source game engine beloved for its user-friendly approach, Vector3 is the Swiss Army knife for all things 3D coordinate-related. By mastering Vector3, you are equipping yourself with the essential tools for crafting dynamic and interactive 3D experiences. So, let’s embark on an adventure through the realm of Vector3, where every coordinate counts, and a world of possibilities awaits your creativity.

What is Vector3?

Vector3 is a powerful class in the Godot 4 engine designed to handle 3D vectors using floating-point coordinates. At its core, it’s a three-element structure capable of representing 3D coordinates or any triplet of numeric values. Think of it as the DNA for any spatial manipulation within the engine — whether that’s moving characters, launching projectiles, or calculating distances.

What is it for?

The utility of Vector3 is vast. It enables game developers to:
– Position and move objects in a 3D space
– Calculate distances and directions between points
– Simulate physics interactions, like bouncing or sliding
– Perform mathematical operations like linear interpolation, which is essential for smooth animations

Why Should I Learn It?

Learning how to use the Vector3 class in Godot is not just about understanding a particular feature; it’s about unlocking the potential to create. Here’s why you should invest time in getting to grips with Vector3:
– **Spatial Understanding**: The backbone of 3D game development is understanding how objects relate to each other in space, and Vector3 is the key to this kingdom.
– **Transferable Knowledge**: Concepts like vectors and their operations are universal in game development — learn them once, and apply them across multiple platforms and engines.
– **Powerful Toolset**: Vector3 brings a host of functions and methods that allow for complex calculations and movements, which are essential for realistic and engaging game behavior.

By mastering Vector3, you’ll be one step closer to bringing your dream realms to life. Let’s take our first steps into the world of Vector3, and explore it through engaging code examples and practical applications in our next sections. Let the adventure begin!

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Creating and Using Vector3 in Godot 4

Let’s kick off with the basics of creating and manipulating a Vector3 in Godot 4. Whether defining an object’s position or specifying a direction, these examples will establish the foundational skills you need.

First, we’ll see how to create a basic Vector3 instance:

var my_vector = Vector3(1, 2, 3)

This vector now holds the x, y, and z coordinates (1, 2, and 3, respectively). You can modify these values like so:

my_vector.x = 5
my_vector.y += 1
my_vector.z = my_vector.y

We’re not just limited to setting values directly. Godot’s Vector3 supports a wide range of mathematical operations. Let’s add two vectors together:

var vector_one = Vector3(1, 0, 0)
var vector_two = Vector3(0, 1, 0)
var vector_sum = vector_one + vector_two # Result: (1, 1, 0)

Subtracting vectors can help us find the distance between points:

var point_a = Vector3(3, 5, 7)
var point_b = Vector3(1, 1, 1)
var distance_vector = point_a - point_b # Result: (2, 4, 6)

Multiplying vectors by scalars can scale them in space. Here’s an example of doubling the size of a vector:

var original_vector = Vector3(1, 1, 1)
var scaled_vector = original_vector * 2 # Result: (2, 2, 2)

Vector3 Functions and Methods

Godot 4 provides many built-in methods to get the most out of Vector3. Here are some examples of how you can leverage these functions for more advanced manipulations.

Finding the magnitude (or length) of a vector is crucial for normalization and distance calculations. Here’s how to acquire it:

var my_vector = Vector3(1, 2, 3)
var length = my_vector.length() # Result: Magnitude of my_vector

When it comes to setting the length of a vector, normalize function comes in handy, especially for directions with a specific magnitude:

var direction_vector = Vector3(3, 4, 0)
direction_vector = direction_vector.normalized() # Now has a length of 1

The dot product can tell us about the angle between two vectors. It’s especially useful for lighting calculations and determining visibility:

var vec_a = Vector3(1, 0, 0)
var vec_b = Vector3(0, 1, 0)
var dot_product = # Result: 0 (Orthogonal vectors)

Cross products are instrumental in 3D graphics for finding perpendicular vectors, like the normal of a surface:

var vec_a = Vector3(1, 0, 0)
var vec_b = Vector3(0, 1, 0)
var cross_product = vec_a.cross(vec_b) # Result: Vector3(0, 0, 1)

These examples illustrate just a glimpse of the operations and functions available. As you delve deeper and integrate Vector3 into your Godot 4 projects, you’ll find a robust toolbox at your disposal, one that’s essential for creating intricate and vivid 3D worlds. With these fundamentals in your toolkit, you’re well on your way to constructing more complex and interactive 3D experiences. Stay tuned as we continue to expand on these basics in the next part of the tutorial!Great, let’s move further into the practical applications of Vector3 in Godot 4. Building on our understanding of the Vector3’s basic operations and methods, we can now explore a few more complex uses that can really enhance the gameplay experience.

Interpolating Between Vectors

Linear interpolation (lerp) is a method often used to smoothly transition between points. Here’s how you use Vector3’s lerp function to move an object towards a target:

var current_position = Vector3(0, 0, 0)
var target_position = Vector3(10, 10, 10)
var weight = 0.1 # Move 10% closer to the target each time

var new_position = current_position.linear_interpolate(target_position, weight)
# Result: Vector3(1, 1, 1) after first call

This method is excellent for smooth movements and camera following logic.

Rotating Vectors

Rotation is a critical aspect of 3D gaming. When you want to rotate a vector around an axis, you can use the rotated method:

var my_vector = Vector3(0, 1, 0)
var axis = Vector3(0, 0, 1)
var angle = PI / 2 # 90 degrees in radians

var rotated_vector = my_vector.rotated(axis, angle)
# Result: Vector3(-1, 0, 0)

Reflecting Vectors

Reflection comes into play with light rays, projectiles, or even bouncy surfaces. Godot’s Vector3 reflects method will do just that:

var incoming_vector = Vector3(1, -1, 0)
var normal = Vector3(0, 1, 0)

var reflected_vector = incoming_vector.reflect(normal)
# Result: Vector3(1, 1, 0)

Reflected vectors are useful for simulating light or creating realistic bounce effects.

Moving Towards Another Vector

Perhaps you want to move an object towards another one, but only by a specific step amount. Here’s how to do it in Godot 4:

var current_position = Vector3(0, 0, 0)
var target_position = Vector3(5, 5, 5)
var max_distance = 1 # Move by 1 unit at most

var move_vector = (target_position - current_position).normalized() * min(max_distance, current_position.distance_to(target_position))
var new_position = current_position + move_vector
# Result: new_position gets closer to target_position by up to 1 unit max

Checking if Two Vectors are Approximately Equal

When determining if two positions are ‘close enough,’ an exact match is often impractical due to floating-point errors. Instead, you can use the is_equal_approx method:

var vector_a = Vector3(1, 2, 3)
var vector_b = Vector3(1.0001, 2.0001, 3.0001)

var is_close_enough = vector_a.is_equal_approx(vector_b)
# Result: true (as they are approximately equal)

Understanding and applying these Vector3 operations will significantly enhance your ability to create realistic physics, smoother movements, and more engaging gameplay. Dive into coding with these examples, and see how they can transform your gaming projects in Godot 4! Stay curious and continue experimenting; there’s always more to learn and create in the vibrant world of game development.As we move forward, let’s delve into some more sophisticated vector manipulations that showcase the true power of Vector3 in Godot 4.

Advanced Vector3 Operations

Vector3 provides a robust foundation for simulating realistic movement and interactions. Here’s how we can push our Vector3 knowledge further with these advanced operations.

Facing Towards Another Vector
Need an object to face another? The look_at method is invaluable for orientations and facing targets.

var current_position = Vector3(0, 0, 0)
var target_position = Vector3(1, 1, 1)

# The UP direction in 3D space, used as the second argument in look_at
var up_direction = Vector3(0, 1, 0)

# How to face the target position from the current position using the UP direction
var orientation = Transform().looking_at(target_position, up_direction)
# Apply 'orientation' to an object's transform to make it face 'target_position'

Projecting Vectors
Projection can be used to determine how much of one vector lies in the direction of another. It’s especially helpful in shadow calculations or aligning movement along surfaces.

var vector_to_project = Vector3(1, 2, 3)
var target_vector = Vector3(4, 0, 0)

var projection = vector_to_project.project(target_vector)
# Result: Vector3(1, 0, 0) since target_vector points along the x-axis

Clamping Vectors
Suppose you need to restrict movement or positions within a certain space; clamping within a rectangular area becomes necessary.

var position = Vector3(10, 10, 10)
var min_bounds = Vector3(0, 0, 0)
var max_bounds = Vector3(5, 5, 5)

var clamped_position = position.clamped(min_bounds, max_bounds)
# Result: Vector3(5, 5, 5) as it's the maximum bounds

Slides Along a Surface
Handling collisions or movement constraints requires calculations to slide along a surface correctly. The slide method does exactly that.

var motion = Vector3(0, -1, 0) # Downward motion
var collision_normal = Vector3(0, 1, 0) # Upward normal of the surface

var slide_motion = motion.slide(collision_normal)
# Result: Vector3(0, 0, 0) because the original motion was directly opposed to the normal

Snapping Vectors
In grid-based games or for snapping movements to the nearest unit, snapping vector components can be very useful.

var position = Vector3(0.5, 1.7, 2.3)
var snap_value = Vector3(1, 1, 1) # Snap to the nearest whole number

var snapped_position = position.snapped(snap_value)
# Result: Vector3(1, 2, 2)

Angles Between Vectors
Calculating the angle between two vectors is a vital operation in numerous game development contexts, from AI sight detection to custom animation transitions.

var vec_a = Vector3(1, 0, 0)
var vec_b = Vector3(0, 1, 0)

var angle_rad = vec_a.angle_to(vec_b)
var angle_deg = rad2deg(angle_rad)
# Result: angle_rad will be PI/2, and angle_deg will be 90 degrees for orthogonal vectors

Distance to Another Vector
While we’ve seen directional distance with vector subtraction, calculating the actual spatial distance between two points is another common requirement.

var start_position = Vector3(0, 0, 0)
var end_position = Vector3(1, 1, 1)

var distance = start_position.distance_to(end_position)
# Result: Approximately 1.732, which is the square root of 3 (Pythagorean theorem)

These examples provide a more comprehensive perspective on the gravity of Vector3 in the world of game development. Integrating these advanced practices into your Godot 4 projects will lead to more nuanced and lifelike game mechanics. Remember, programming is as much about creativity as it is about logic. So go ahead, go forth, and code—let your newfound Vector3 expertise be your guide in sculpting mesmerizing 3D worlds!

Continue Your Game Development Journey

Mastering Vector3 and delving into 3D game mechanics is just the beginning. Are you ready to advance your Godot expertise and create compelling, interactive games? At Zenva, we encourage you to keep the momentum going with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. This detailed program provides a plethora of courses that deepen your understanding of game development using Godot 4. You’ll explore everything from 2D and 3D assets to gameplay mechanics and UI design, arming yourself with the knowledge to build a diverse portfolio of real Godot projects.

For those who wish to broaden their skillset even more, our full collection of Godot courses awaits. Ranging from beginner to advanced levels, there’s content to elevate everyone’s skills, complete with engaging projects and flexible learning options. With Godot’s free and open-source platform, coupled with Zenva’s structured learning path, transforming your creative ideas into polished games is within reach.

Embrace the opportunity to go from beginner to professional with Zenva. Keep learning, keep creating, and let your passion for game development come to life!


As your journey through the nuances of Vector3 in Godot 4 concludes, remember that the path of learning game development is an ongoing adventure. The concepts and techniques you’ve embraced here open up a realm of possibilities, setting the stage for you to bring your creative visions to life in breathtaking 3D virtual environments. We at Zenva are excited to see the worlds you’ll craft and the stories you’ll tell through the power of game development.

Fuel your passion and continue to grow with us at Zenva. Whether you’re refining your skills or tackling new challenges, our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is designed to guide you every step of the way. So seize the opportunity, embrace the learning curve, and let’s create unforgettable gaming experiences together. Your next big game idea is just a Vector3 away from becoming a reality!

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