VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter in Godot – Complete Guide

Visual shaders in Godot are an incredibly powerful tool that allow developers to create stunning visual effects without the need to write complex shader code by hand. They’re particularly useful for artists and programmers who prefer a more visual approach to shader programming. Today, we’re diving into the VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter class in Godot 4, a crucial component for any developer looking to manipulate 3D transformations within the visual shader graph. Through this tutorial, you’ll learn how to effectively utilize this node to enhance your game’s visuals with transformation effects.

What is VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter?

The VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter is a node within the Godot Engine’s visual shader graph system that allows users to interface with Transform3D parameters. It’s essentially a gateway for manipulating positional, rotational, and scaling data of objects within your shaders. Think of it as a control knob for 3D transformations that your shaders can turn and tweak to modify 3D assets in your game dynamically.

What is it for?

This powerful node is used when you need to define and use transformation matrices in your visual shaders. Whether you’re working on complex animations, implementing a system that requires dynamic scaling, or just want to have better control over how your objects move through 3D space, the VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter is your go-to resource.

Why Should I Learn It?

With the VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter, you can:

– Easily manipulate objects’ transformations directly within the visual shader editor.
– Implement intricate visual effects that respond to changes in an object’s transformation.
– Improve the performance of your game by using shaders for transformation instead of relying fully on script-based manipulations.

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to implement transformation parameters in a visual shader graph, which can be a game-changer for your projects. Let’s dive in and unleash the potential of visual shaders in Godot 4!

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Setting Up Your VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter

To begin crafting your visual transformations with the VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter node, you must first understand how to set it up within the Godot visual shader editor.

// First, ensure you have a ShaderMaterial assigned to your object.
var material = ShaderMaterial.new()

// Next, create a new VisualShader instance.
var visual_shader = VisualShader.new()

// Assign the VisualShader to the ShaderMaterial.
material.shader = visual_shader

Once your material is ready, you can add the TransformParameter node to your shader graph:

// Then, instantiate your VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter.
var transform_param_node = VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter.new()

// Set a meaningful name to retrieve it later if necessary.
transform_param_node.parameter_name = "MyTransformParam"

// Finally, add it to the VisualShader.
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, transform_param_node, Vector2(100, 150))

Manipulating Position with VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter

One of the first and most common uses of transformation parameters is to alter an object’s position. Here’s how you can shift an object’s position on the x-axis using a TransformParameter node.

// Let's say you want to move your object 2 units on the x-axis every second.
// Create a time-based offset using VisualShaderNodeTime.
var time_node = VisualShaderNodeTime.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, time_node, Vector2(50, 50))

// Next, create an addition node to add the time-based offset to the transformation.
var add_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.new()
add_node.operation = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OPERATION_ADD
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, add_node, Vector2(200, 150))

// Connect the time to the x component of the addition node.
visual_shader.node_connect(time_node, "time", add_node, "a")
visual_shader.node_connect(transform_param_node, "transform", add_node, "b")

// Now, replace the object's original vertex position with the new, time-offset one.
var vertex_node = visual_shader.get_graph_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, Vector2(0, 0))
visual_shader.node_connect(add_node, "result", vertex_node, "vertex")

Rotating Objects with VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter

In addition to positional shifts, rotations are easily accomplished with TransformParameter nodes. The snippet below demonstrates how to rotate an object around the y-axis.

// Create a rotation matrix for the y-axis.
var rot_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.new()
rot_node.operation = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OPERATION_ROTATE
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, rot_node, Vector2(250, 250))

// Define the rotation axis and angle.
var rot_axis = Vector3(0, 1, 0) // y-axis
var rot_angle = 1.5 // 1.5 radians
rot_node.inputs[1] = rot_axis
rot_node.inputs[2] = rot_angle

// Connect the rotation node to the TransformParameter node.
visual_shader.node_connect(transform_param_node, "transform", rot_node, "vector")

// Apply the rotated transform to the original vertex positions.
visual_shader.node_connect(rot_node, "result", vertex_node, "vertex")

Scaling Objects Dynamically

Another transformation aspect you can control with the VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter node is scaling. Here’s how to dynamically scale an object on all axes.

// Create a scalar value using VisualShaderNodeUniform.
var scale_value_node = VisualShaderNodeUniform.new()
scale_value_node.uniform_type = VisualShaderNodeUniform.TYPE_SCALAR
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, scale_value_node, Vector2(300, 300))

// Manually set a scaling value from script.
material.set_shader_param("scale_value_uniform", 0.5)

// Use a Multiply node to apply the scaling to the transform matrix.
var mult_node = VisualShaderNodeTransformMult.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, mult_node, Vector2(350, 350))

visual_shader.node_connect(scale_value_node, "scalar", mult_node, "vector")
visual_shader.node_connect(transform_param_node, "transform", mult_node, "transform")

// Replace the object's transform with the scaled version.
visual_shader.node_connect(mult_node, "result", vertex_node, "vertex")

In the next part, we’ll explore how to tie these transformations together for more complex effects, and we’ll cover some tips on optimizing your visual shaders for better performance in your Godot 4 projects. Stay tuned for immersive learning that will elevate your visuals to the next level!As we expand on our knowledge of the VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter node, let’s delve into how we can combine the concepts of position manipulation, rotation, and scaling to create more complex transformation effects in Godot 4. We’ll put together an interactive example where an object oscillates, rotates, and scales based on various inputs, demonstrating the power and flexibility of visual shaders.

Tying Transformations Together for Complex Effects

Let’s imagine we have an object that we want to animate to create an engaging visual effect where it oscillates up and down, rotates, and scales dynamically.

// We begin by defining a sine wave to create an oscillation pattern.
var sine_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()
sine_node.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, sine_node, Vector2(100, 100))

// Connect the time to the sinusoidal function for continuous animation.
visual_shader.node_connect(time_node, "time", sine_node, "scalar")

// Use a float uniform to control the amplitude of the oscillation.
var amplitude_node = VisualShaderNodeUniform.new()
amplitude_node.uniform_type = VisualShaderNodeUniform.TYPE_FLOAT
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, amplitude_node, Vector2(150, 100))

// Multiply the sine output by the amplitude to get the final oscillation value.
var multiply_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarOp.new()
multiply_node.operation = VisualShaderNodeScalarOp.OP_MUL
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, multiply_node, Vector2(200, 100))

visual_shader.node_connect(sine_node, "scalar", multiply_node, "a")
visual_shader.node_connect(amplitude_node, "float", multiply_node, "b")

Next, we’ll add this oscillation to the position of our object on the y-axis.

// To make this effect visible, we'll need to adjust the original vertex position.
var vec_add_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.new()
vec_add_node.operation = VisualShaderNodeVectorOp.OPERATION_ADD
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, vec_add_node, Vector2(250, 150))

// Offset the y-component of the vertex position by our oscillation value.
var vertex_pos = visual_shader.get_graph_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, Vector2(0, 0))
visual_shader.node_connect(vertex_pos, "vertex", vec_add_node, "a")
visual_shader.node_connect(multiply_node, "scalar", vec_add_node, "b")

// Apply the modified position back to the vertex.
visual_shader.node_connect(vec_add_node, "vector", vertex_pos, "vertex")

For rotation, we might want to have control over the speed, so let’s include a uniform to control it.

// Create a speed uniform to control the rotation speed.
var speed_node = VisualShaderNodeUniform.new()
speed_node.uniform_type = VisualShaderNodeUniform.TYPE_FLOAT
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, speed_node, Vector2(300, 200))

// Multiply the time by the rotation speed to get the rotation value.
var rot_speed_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarOp.new()
rot_speed_node.operation = VisualShaderNodeScalarOp.OP_MUL
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, rot_speed_node, Vector2(350, 250))

visual_shader.node_connect(time_node, "time", rot_speed_node, "a")
visual_shader.node_connect(speed_node, "float", rot_speed_node, "b")

// Use the result as the rotation angle in our earlier rotation example.
rot_node.inputs[2] = rot_speed_node.outputs[0]

Lastly, let’s allow the scaling to be influenced by another sinusoidal function to make the scaling effect pulsate.

// Instantiate another sine wave for the scaling effect.
var scale_sine_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()
scale_sine_node.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, scale_sine_node, Vector2(400, 300))

// Connect the time to the sine function to keep the pulsating effect continuous.
visual_shader.node_connect(time_node, "time", scale_sine_node, "scalar")

// Use this sine output to drive the uniform scale node's vector input.
visual_shader.node_connect(scale_sine_node, "scalar", scale_value_node, "float")

By combining these various nodes effectively, we can create a dynamic and rich visual effect for our object without a single line of complex shader code. Remember that while we’ve provided a series of actions separately, the actual shader graph would involve connecting these nodes to complement each other and produce a cohesive transformation effect on your 3D object.

Through these versatile nodes and the user-friendly interface of Godot’s visual shader editor, you can create custom animated shaders that will make your game stand out. Visual shaders are a testament to the engine’s dedication to providing tools that support both artists and programmers in bringing their visions to life. Experiment with the infinite combinations and parameters; the only limit is your imagination!Continuing from where we left off, let’s look at how various other inputs and functions can be used in your visual shaders to create even more engaging effects. We are expanding the complexity by adding environmental reactions, such as light interaction and texture-based transformations.

Interacting with Lights

In 3D scenes, interacting with light sources can greatly enhance the visual appeal of your objects. Let’s add a simple effect to our shader that will make our object ‘glow’ when it is facing towards a light source.

// First, create a VisualShaderNodeDotProduct to calculate the angle to the light source.
var dot_product_node = VisualShaderNodeDotProduct.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, dot_product_node, Vector2(500, 400))

// Connect the normal output and the light vector.
var light_node = VisualShaderNodeLight.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, light_node, Vector2(450, 350))

visual_shader.node_connect(vertex_pos, "normal", dot_product_node, "vector1")
visual_shader.node_connect(light_node, "light", dot_product_node, "vector2")

// Add a VisualShaderNodeOutput to connect our result to the color output.
var output_node = VisualShaderNodeOutput.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, output_node, Vector2(600, 400))

// Manipulate the output color based on the dot product result.
var vec_mult_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorScalarStep.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, vec_mult_node, Vector2(550, 400))

// Connect the dot_product_node to the vector scalar multiply, and then to the output color.
visual_shader.node_connect(dot_product_node, "scalar", vec_mult_node, "step")
visual_shader.node_connect(vec_mult_node, "vector", output_node, "albedo")

Texture-Based Transformations

Now let’s see how a texture can drive the displacement of an object’s vertices to create a waving flag effect, for example.

// Use a texture to drive the displacement.
var texture_node = VisualShaderNodeTexture.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, texture_node, Vector2(500, 500))

// Sample the texture based on UV coordinates.
var uv_node = VisualShaderNodeUV.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, uv_node, Vector2(450, 450))
visual_shader.node_connect(uv_node, "uv", texture_node, "uv")

// Since we want to displace along a specific axis, let's define it.
var displacement_axis = Vector3(0, 1, 0) // Y-axis - up and down

// Now, let's displace the vertex position based on the texture's red channel.
var vertex_displace_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorSmoothStep.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, vertex_displace_node, Vector2(550, 500))

// Getting the red channel as scalar displacement.
var texture_extract_node = VisualShaderNodeTextureDecompose.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, texture_extract_node, Vector2(600, 500))
visual_shader.node_connect(texture_node, "rgb", texture_extract_node, "texture")

// Apply the displacement to the vertex position.
visual_shader.node_connect(texture_extract_node, "r", vertex_displace_node, "scalar")
visual_shader.node_connect(vertex_displace_node, "vector", vertex_pos, "vertex")

Time-Based Scaling

Enhancing our scaling example, you can make your object pulse in size with time.

// Create a sine wave function node for smooth pulsating scale effect.
var time_sine_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()
time_sine_node.function = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, time_sine_node, Vector2(650, 600))

// Use time to affect the scalar function.
visual_shader.node_connect(time_node, "time", time_sine_node, "scalar")

// Now, connect the sine output to our scaling node.
visual_shader.node_connect(time_sine_node, "scalar", mult_node, "vector")

Utilizing Conditionals for Dynamic Effects

In some cases, you might want to apply transformations only under certain conditions. Let’s create a snippet where an object changes color if it is above a certain y-position in the shader.

// Let's introduce a VisualShaderNodeUniform to set the threshold.
var threshold_node = VisualShaderNodeUniform.new()
threshold_node.uniform_type = VisualShaderNodeUniform.TYPE_VECTOR
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, threshold_node, Vector2(700, 600))

// We will compare the current vertex y-position to this threshold.
var compare_node = VisualShaderNodeCompare.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_FRAGMENT, compare_node, Vector2(750, 600))

// To retrieve the y-position, connect the WorldMatrix node to the Compare node.
var cond_vertex_node = VisualShaderNodeTransformVecMult.new()
visual_shader.add_node(VisualShader.TYPE_VERTEX, cond_vertex_node, Vector2(800, 600))

visual_shader.node_connect(vertex_pos, "vertex", cond_vertex_node, "vec")
visual_shader.node_connect(cond_vertex_node, "result", compare_node, "A")
visual_shader.node_connect(threshold_node, "vec", compare_node, "B")

// Now, connect the Compare node to the fragment's output to change the albedo based on condition.
visual_shader.node_connect(compare_node, "result", output_node, "albedo")

By combining these nodes and techniques, you create an environment where the visuals of your game react to both player input and game mechanics, providing a more immersive experience. Visual shaders are a powerful ally in the game developer’s toolkit, granting the ability to construct complex visual interactions with straightforward node connections. Keep exploring and experimenting with Godot’s VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter and other visual shader nodes to discover the full potential of your game’s aesthetics.

Continuing Your Godot Journey

Embarking on your game development journey with Godot is an exciting path filled with endless possibilities. You’ve taken the first steps by exploring the capabilities of VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter and its potential for transforming your 3D objects. But the learning doesn’t have to stop here.

If you’re eager to dive deeper into Godot and expand your skill set, our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is the perfect next step. This comprehensive collection of courses will guide you through the ins and outs of building cross-platform games with the robust, yet lightweight, Godot engine. Whether you’re a complete beginner or someone with previous experience looking to refine your skills, our curriculum is structured to cater to your learning pace, allowing you the freedom to focus on the areas that interest you most.

For a broader range of topics and to access our full catalog of Godot tutorials, visit our collection of Godot courses. Each course is designed to propel you forward on your game development journey, bolstering your knowledge and enhancing your portfolio. With Zenva, you’re not just learning to code; you’re building the foundation for a fulfilling career in game development. Embrace the process, keep experimenting, and continue crafting the games you envision. Your next big project awaits!

Conclusion

As we wrap up our exploration of the VisualShaderNodeTransformParameter and the broader capabilities of Godot’s visual shaders, we hope you feel inspired to delve into your own creative endeavors. The journey of learning and mastering Godot doesn’t end with a single tutorial—it’s an ongoing adventure full of discovery, creativity, and problem-solving. And remember, whether you’re crafting mesmerizing visual effects or building the foundations of a ground-breaking indie game, the skills you develop here are the building blocks of your future in game development.

Your journey with Godot is just beginning, and there is so much more to explore. Take the next step in honing your skills with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. With our courses, you’re not just learning—you’re creating, innovating, and bringing your dreams to life. Continue to challenge yourself, and let the world of Godot be your canvas. Happy developing!

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