VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to a deep dive into the world of visual shaders in Godot 4! Are you fascinated by the stunning visual effects seen in games and keen to learn how to implement them yourself? Then you’ve come to the right place. This tutorial is centered around the VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct, a powerful node that can take your graphical effects to the next level. By understanding and utilizing this tool, you’ll be on your way to creating visually impressive game features that can truly captivate your players.

The VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct is a specialized node within Godot 4’s visual shader graph that performs an important operation in vector mathematics: the outer product. Essentially, it multiplies a column vector with a row vector, producing a matrix. This operation is fundamental in shader programming, which makes crafting bespoke graphical effects a breeze.

What is it for?

You may wonder about the practical uses of the outer product in game development. Well, this operation is incredibly useful when you need to manipulate vectors for lighting, transformations, and creating complex procedural textures. It’s a versatile tool that provides a bridge between mathematical theory and visual artistry in games.

Why Should I Learn It?

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In Godot 4, using the VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct starts by understanding vector and matrix operations. Let’s begin with the simplest scenario—a multiplication of two vectors.

```vec3 vectorA = vec3(1, 2, 3);
vec3 vectorB = vec3(4, 5, 6);
mat3 result = outerProduct(vectorA, vectorB);```

Here, `vectorA` and `vectorB` are multiplied using the `outerProduct` function, which is conceptually similar to what the VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct does in Godot’s visual shader editor.

Creating a Basic Shader with OuterProduct

Now, let’s translate this simple use case into the visual shader editor in Godot. We’ll create a very basic shader applying the outer product operation to two vectors — one from the fragment’s coordinates and another a uniform that we can manipulate.

```// Add a VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct node
// Connect a Vec3 constant to the first input (Vector1)
// Connect a Vec3 uniform to the second input (Vector2)

void fragment() {
// Get the fragcoord and normalize it
vec2 uv = FRAGCOORD.xy / SCREEN_PIXEL_SIZE;
// Create a simple vector to use with the outer product
vec3 vectorA = vec3(uv, 1.0);
// Define a uniform vector for artist manipulation
uniform vec3 vectorB = vec3(0.5, 0.5, 0.5);

// Calculate the outer product
vec3 outerResult = OuterProduct(vectorA, vectorB).rgb;

// Output the result as a color
ALBEDO = outerResult;
}```

In this shader script, we use the outer product to affect the final color output (`ALBEDO`) by combining the texture coordinates with a user-defined vector. Notice how we normalize fragment coordinates and use them to create a dynamic effect.

Visualizing the Outer Product Effect

To visualize the effect of the outer product, the next step is to apply the shader to a mesh and adjust the uniform vector to see the changes in real-time. Here’s how you can initialize a uniform vector and apply the shader to a material.

```// Imagine a simple spatial material with your shader

// Now modify the uniform within the shader

// Finally, assign this material to a MeshInstance in your scene
\$MeshInstance.material_override = material```

By rotating the mesh or adjusting the `vectorB` uniform, you will see the color patterns shift, showcasing the powerful visual effect generated by the outer product.

Animating the Effect Over Time

Introducing motion to our shader can provide a more dynamic and engaging effect. Let’s animate our uniform vector based on time to continuously change the visual.

```// Within your spatial shader, modify the uniform vector by time

uniform vec3 vectorB = vec3(0.5, sin(TIME * 2.0), cos(TIME * 2.0));

void fragment() {
vec2 uv = FRAGCOORD.xy / SCREEN_PIXEL_SIZE;
vec3 vectorA = vec3(uv, 1.0);

// Use TIME to animate the outer product calculation
vec3 outerResult = OuterProduct(vectorA, vectorB).rgb;

// Output results
ALBEDO = outerResult;
}```

In this example, `sin(TIME * 2.0)` and `cos(TIME * 2.0)` are used to create an oscillating effect on the `vectorB`, leading to a changing color effect over time.

With these basics, we’ve established a foundation for using the VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct to bring engaging visual effects into your Godot projects. Stay tuned for the next installment, where we will delve into more complex applications!Continuing with our exploration of the VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct, we will now delve into more advanced uses and manipulate the resulting matrix to achieve different visual effects. Remember, experimentation is key in the learning process, so don’t hesitate to try different combinations and see the results in real time in Godot 4’s shader editor.

Manipulating Lighting Effects

Lighting can significantly alter the mood and atmosphere of a scene. The outer product can be applied to alter lighting vectors, creating custom shading effects.

```// Assuming a basic lighting setup
vec3 lightDir = normalize(-LIGHT_DIRECTION); // Normalize light direction
vec3 normal = normalize(NORMAL); // Normalize surface normal

// Create vectors to use with the outer product
vec3 vectorA = lightDir;
vec3 vectorB = normal;

// Calculate the outer product, then take the dot product for lighting intensity
float intensity = dot(outerProduct(vectorA, vectorB)[0], normal);

// Use intensity to modify the final color
ALBEDO = vec3(1.0) * intensity;```

Here, we use the outer product to consider the light direction in relation to the normals of a surface and calculate an intensity value for our shader’s output.

Creating Procedural Textures

Procedural textures are an excellent way to add detail to your game worlds without the need for many large texture files. The outer product can be used to produce procedural patterns.

```// Generate procedural stripes
vec3 vectorA = vec3(FRAGCOORD.xy, 0);
vec3 vectorB = vec3(sin(TIME), cos(TIME), 1.0);

mat3 stripes = outerProduct(vectorA, vectorB);

// Create a mask based on the pattern and apply it to the color
ALBEDO = mix(vec3(1.0), vec3(0.0), step(0.5, mod(stripes[0][0], 1.0)));```

This snippet generates a dynamic, time-varying stripe pattern as a texture based on the outer product of two vectors.

Transformations such as rotation and scaling often require matrix manipulation. By using the outer product to generate matrices, we can transform our coordinates.

```// Rotate a texture's UV coordinates
vec2 uv = FRAGCOORD.xy / SCREEN_PIXEL_SIZE;
float angle = TIME; // Rotate based on time

// Create rotation vectors
vec3 vectorA = vec3(cos(angle), sin(angle), 0);
vec3 vectorB = vec3(-sin(angle), cos(angle), 0);

// Use the outer product for a rotation matrix
mat3 rotMatrix = outerProduct(vectorA, vectorB);

// Apply rotation to UV coordinates
vec3 transformedUv = rotMatrix * vec3(uv, 1.0);

// Sample a texture using the transformed UVs (assuming texture is set up)
vec3 color = texture(SAMPLER2D, transformedUv.xy).rgb;

// Output the color
ALBEDO = color;```

The shader code above demonstrates how you can create a rotation matrix using the outer product, which is then applied to the UV coordinates.

Combining Effects

Combining various techniques can lead to uniquely engaging shaders. You might want to mix in your custom lighting with a procedural texture, which is entirely possible with Godot 4 shaders.

```// Combine the lighting effect with a procedural texture
vec3 lightEffect = ... // As described in lighting effect example above
vec3 textureEffect = ... // As described in procedural texture example above

// Blend the two effects
ALBEDO = mix(lightEffect, textureEffect, 0.5);```

This is a simplistic representation of how you might combine the effects. You can adjust the mix factor and add conditions or animations to make the blending change over time or based on gameplay elements.

Utilizing the VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct in Godot 4’s environment can open a plethora of possibilities for game developers, artists, and technologists alike. The above examples are just starting points that, with creativity and understanding, can be transformed into endless visual masterpieces. We encourage you to experiment with these concepts and develop your unique shaders to enhance your game development projects. Happy coding!Let’s elevate our shader skills by digging into more intricate examples where the outer product can yield fascinating results. We will explore various scenarios where applying this operation facilitates complex visual outcomes, sometimes in ways that may not be immediately obvious.

Morphing Effects with Outer Product

Implementing morphing effects in shaders can make your visual elements appear as if they are transforming or blending into something else. By using outer product computations, you can control such transitions with precision.

```// Define two vectors representing different states
vec3 startVector = vec3(1, 0, 0);
vec3 endVector = vec3(0, 1, 0);

// Calculate the morph based on time
float morphAmount = sin(TIME * 0.5) * 0.5 + 0.5; // Oscillates between 0 and 1
vec3 morphVector = mix(startVector, endVector, morphAmount);

// Apply the outer product to the morph vector and a constant vector
vec3 constantVector = vec3(1,1,1);
mat3 morphEffect = outerProduct(morphVector, constantVector);

// Use the resulting matrix to affect color
ALBEDO = vec3(morphEffect[0][0], morphEffect[1][0], morphEffect[2][0]);```

In this example, we’ve created a shader that takes two vectors and morphs between them over time. By mixing these vectors with the `mix` function, we animate the effect in a smooth, cyclical manner.

Creating Distortion Effects

Distortion effects such as heat haze or water ripples can give environments a realistic touch. Let’s see how you can incorporate them with the outer product.

```// Create a distortion vector based on a sine wave
vec2 distortion = vec2(sin(FRAGCOORD.y * 0.1 + TIME), 0);

// Apply the outer product with distortion and fragcoord vectors
vec3 vectorA = vec3(FRAGCOORD.xy, 0);
vec3 vectorB = vec3(distortion, 1);
mat3 distortionMatrix = outerProduct(vectorA, vectorB);

// Sample the texture with distortion
vec3 color = texture(SAMPLER2D, FRAGCOORD.xy + distortionMatrix[0].xy * 0.005).rgb;

// Output the color with distortion
ALBEDO = color;```

The code shows how to create a vertical wave distortion effect by manipulating texture coordinates with an output matrix from the outer product.

Geometric Pattern Generation

Using the outer product can prove particularly useful when you need to generate geometric patterns dynamically.

```// Generate a checkerboard pattern with outer product
vec3 vectorU = vec3(step(0.5, mod(FRAGCOORD.x, 2.0)), 0, 0);
vec3 vectorV = vec3(0, step(0.5, mod(FRAGCOORD.y, 2.0)), 0);

// Combine the two vectors with outer product to create a pattern matrix
mat3 patternMatrix = outerProduct(vectorU, vectorV);

// Decide the color based on the checkerboard pattern
vec3 checkerColor = (patternMatrix[0].xy == vec2(0.0)) ? vec3(1.0) : vec3(0.0);

// Use the color
ALBEDO = checkerColor;```

This shader script generates a checkerboard pattern by alternating colors based on the fragment coordinates. The result of the outer product determines which color to use for each square.

Depth-Based Effects

Lastly, the outer product can be used to manipulate effects based on depth, creating a sense of atmosphere or fog.

```// Calculate depth
float depth = -VERTEX.z;

// Use outer product to create a depth effect
vec3 depthVector = vec3(depth, depth, depth);
vec3 baseColor = vec3(1.0, 0.5, 0.2); // Some base color

mat3 depthEffectMatrix = outerProduct(depthVector, baseColor);

// Use the red channel to simulate depth fading
vec3 depthColorEffect = vec3(depthEffectMatrix[0][0]);

// Output the depth-based color effect
ALBEDO = mix(baseColor, depthColorEffect, 0.5);```

The shader computes depth from the vertex position and fades the color based on this value, simulating a foggy effect where objects farther away blend into the chosen base color.

The examples provided here illustrate just a fraction of what’s possible when you harness the power of VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct in Godot 4. From stimulating transformations to intricate patterns, this tool elevates your visual effects, giving your games a distinguishing edge. As with any creative endeavor, practice and experimentation are the keys to mastery. Enjoy exploring and innovating with these shaders!

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Conclusion

Exploring the VisualShaderNodeOuterProduct in Godot 4 and its applications is just the beginning of what you can achieve in game graphics and visual effects. With what we’ve covered, you now have a powerful tool in your developer’s toolkit that can bring a new level of sophistication to your projects. But, of course, every conclusion is a new starting point for further growth and expertise.

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