VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose in Godot – Complete Guide

Welcome to our in-depth exploration of the VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose class in Godot 4, an engine that’s rapidly becoming a staple for indie game developers and hobbyists alike. Whether you’re here to brush up on your skills or you’re diving into the vast ocean of visual scripting for the first time, understanding the foundation of vector composition will significantly expand your creative horizons. Let’s embark on this journey together to master a concept that stands as a cornerstone for stunning visual effects, dynamic character movements, and the essence of any 3D environment.

What is VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose?

The VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose class is a powerful tool within Godot’s visual shader graph. It’s designed to construct vectors—essential mathematical objects in graphics programming. With this node, you can seamlessly create Vector2, Vector3, or even 4D vectors, which can represent quaternions typically used in rotations. This capability is invaluable when working with position, color, and texture data, allowing for precision and flexibility in your visual scripting.

What is it for?

Vectors form the backbone of game development, enabling developers to articulate space and motion in a language that computers understand. The VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose class simplifies the creation of these vectors from individual scalars—singular values that can be combined to represent direction and magnitude. It’s perfect for tailoring specific visual elements or manipulating game objects in a 3D space, making it a go-to tool for developers who want to enrich their visual effects or gameplay mechanics without dipping into complex code.

Why Should I Learn It?

Diving into VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose is more than just adding another tool to your belt; it’s about embracing efficiency and visual intuition in your game development process. By learning how to compose vectors visually, you will:
– Gain a deeper understanding of how graphical elements are programmed.
– Unlock the potential to create more sophisticated visual effects.
– Reduce the reliance on hard-coded GLSL, making your projects more accessible.
– Shake off the intimidation about manipulating 3D space and make it your playground.
Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting, grasping the dynamics of vectors will open up new avenues in graphical programming and aid you in crafting more polished and interactive game experiences.

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Working with VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose in Godot 4

VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose allows us to construct vectors from individual components. Let’s begin by creating a simple Vector3, which is commonly used to define positions or directions in 3D space.

var vector_compose_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
vector_compose_node.set_input_port_value(0, 1.0) # X component
vector_compose_node.set_input_port_value(1, 2.0) # Y component
vector_compose_node.set_input_port_value(2, 3.0) # Z component

Connecting the above node in a shader graph would output a Vector3(1, 2, 3).

Next, we will create a Vector2, which is often used for 2D positions and texture coordinates.

var vector_compose_node_2d = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
vector_compose_node_2d.set_input_port_value(0, 0.5) # X component
vector_compose_node_2d.set_input_port_value(1, 0.75) # Y component

This would result in a Vector2(0.5, 0.75) when used in a shader graph, ideal for manipulating 2D effects or UI elements.

Now, let’s see how we can compose a vector to represent a color in RGB format. Remember that color values typically range from 0 to 1.

var color_vector_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
color_vector_node.set_input_port_value(0, 1.0) # Red
color_vector_node.set_input_port_value(1, 0.0) # Green
color_vector_node.set_input_port_value(2, 0.0) # Blue

This creates a bright red vector, as only the red component is set to its maximum value.

Finally, let’s tackle 4D vectors, which can be used for various purposes including representing quaternions or RGBA color values with an alpha channel.

var quaternion_vector_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
quaternion_vector_node.set_input_port_value(0, 0.0) # X axis rotation scalar
quaternion_vector_node.set_input_port_value(1, 1.0) # Y axis rotation scalar
quaternion_vector_node.set_input_port_value(2, 0.0) # Z axis rotation scalar
quaternion_vector_node.set_input_port_value(3, 0.0) # Scalar component

In this example, we are building a simple quaternion for a rotation around the Y axis. Making use of these values in a shader can affect how your objects rotate within the scene.

Keep in mind that all these nodes need to be part of a VisualShader graph to function, and they comply with the visual scripting interface Godot provides. This makes it easy to connect and combine with other nodes for dynamic results.

Connecting Nodes and Building Complex Shaders

Let’s expand our use cases by connecting multiple nodes together to form a more complex shader graph. We will start by creating a Vector3 from three different scalar nodes.

// Create scalar nodes
var scalar_x = VisualShaderNodeScalarConstant.new()
scalar_x.set_constant(1.0)

var scalar_y = VisualShaderNodeScalarConstant.new()
scalar_y.set_constant(2.0)

var scalar_z = VisualShaderNodeScalarConstant.new()
scalar_z.set_constant(3.0)

// Create vector compose node
var vector_compose = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()

// Connect scalar nodes to vector compose node
shader_graph.nodes.add(scalar_x)
shader_graph.nodes.add(scalar_y)
shader_graph.nodes.add(scalar_z)
shader_graph.nodes.add(vector_compose)

shader_graph.connect_nodes(scalar_x.get_output_port_index(), vector_compose.get_input_port_index(0))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(scalar_y.get_output_port_index(), vector_compose.get_input_port_index(1))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(scalar_z.get_output_port_index(), vector_compose.get_input_port_index(2))

You can imagine the above snippet as physically connecting wires between nodes in a node-based editor like Godot’s Shader Graph. Each connection represents data flow from one node to another, ultimately defining the behavior of the shader.

Furthermore, let’s blend two colors using VectorCompose nodes to create a gradient effect:

// Colours for our gradient
var color_bottom = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
color_bottom.set_input_port_value(0, 1.0) # Red
color_bottom.set_input_port_value(1, 0.0) # Green
color_bottom.set_input_port_value(2, 0.0) # Blue

var color_top = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
color_top.set_input_port_value(0, 0.0) # Red
color_top.set_input_port_value(1, 0.0) # Green
color_top.set_input_port_value(2, 1.0) # Blue

// Intermediate node to mix both colours
var mix_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorInterp.new()

shader_graph.nodes.add(color_bottom)
shader_graph.nodes.add(color_top)
shader_graph.nodes.add(mix_node)

shader_graph.connect_nodes(color_bottom.get_output_port_index(), mix_node.get_input_port_index(0))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(color_top.get_output_port_index(), mix_node.get_input_port_index(1))

// The factor would normally come from another node for dynamic mixing based on a parameter like texture coordinate.
mix_node.set_input_port_default_value(2, 0.5)

In the gradient example, we provide a static value of 0.5 to the mixing node, resulting in an even blend of both colors. To create dynamic gradients based on coordinates or other parameters, you would replace the hardcoded value with a connection to a node that provides such data.

These snippets illustrate the practical uses of VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose in building shaders. The real power shines when these nodes are connected within the shader graph, enabling vibrant, lively graphics that can take your game from good to great.Building upon our foundational knowledge, let’s further explore the versatility of the VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose in Godot by delving into practical examples that demonstrate its utility in a variety of contexts within your game’s shaders.

// Adjusting the alpha component of a color to create transparency
var color_vector_with_alpha = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
color_vector_with_alpha.set_input_port_value(0, 0.2) // Red
color_vector_with_alpha.set_input_port_value(1, 0.5) // Green
color_vector_with_alpha.set_input_port_value(2, 0.8) // Blue
color_vector_with_alpha.set_input_port_value(3, 0.5) // Alpha (transparency)

In the snippet above, we manipulate the alpha value of an RGBA color. This is particularly useful for adjusting the transparency of objects in your game environment, allowing for richer visual storytelling.

Next, let’s say we want to animate a property within our shader by synchronizing it with the game’s time. We could compose a vector that oscillates over time:

// Synchronize vector composition with game time
var time_sync_node = VisualShaderNodeTime.new()
var sine_function_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.new()
sine_function_node.set_function(VisualShaderNodeScalarFunc.FUNC_SIN)

shader_graph.connect_nodes(time_sync_node.get_output_port_index(), sine_function_node.get_input_port_index(0))

var animated_vector_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
shader_graph.connect_nodes(sine_function_node.get_output_port_index(), animated_vector_node.get_input_port_index(0)) // X component oscillates with time
animated_vector_node.set_input_port_value(1, 1.0) // Y component static
animated_vector_node.set_input_port_value(2, 1.0) // Z component static

Here, we are driving the X component of our vector with a sine wave function based on game time, which creates an oscillating effect, perfect for animations such as pulsing lights or rhythmic object movements.

In another scenario, we might want to deform the vertices of a mesh based on their world position, adding a sense of dynamism or environmental effects, such as wind:

// Vertex deformation based on world position
var world_vertex_position = VisualShaderNodeGlobalExpression.new()
world_vertex_position.set_global_expression("VERTEX")

var noise_node = VisualShaderNodeNoise.new()
var vertex_deform_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()

shader_graph.connect_nodes(world_vertex_position.get_output_port_index(), noise_node.get_input_port_index(0))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(noise_node.get_output_port_index(), vertex_deform_node.get_input_port_index(0)) // Deforms X component based on noise
shader_graph.connect_nodes(noise_node.get_output_port_index(), vertex_deform_node.get_input_port_index(1)) // Deforms Y component based on noise

// Z component remains unaffected
vertex_deform_node.set_input_port_value(2, 0.0)

By utilizing noise in vector composition, we achieve natural-looking variations that can simulate realistic environmental conditions.

Combining vector operations can create advanced graphical effects, such as blending different textures using UV coordinates:

// Blending two textures based on UV coordinates
var texture1_node = VisualShaderNodeTexture.new()
var texture2_node = VisualShaderNodeTexture.new()
var uv_node = VisualShaderNodeUV.new()

var mix_textures_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorInterp.new()
shader_graph.connect_nodes(uv_node.get_output_port_index(), texture1_node.get_input_port_index(0))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(uv_node.get_output_port_index(), texture2_node.get_input_port_index(0))

// Assume 'mix_factor' is a uniform representing our blend factor
var mix_factor_uniform = VisualShaderNodeUniform.new()
mix_factor_uniform.set_uniform_name("mix_factor")

shader_graph.connect_nodes(texture1_node.get_output_port_index(), mix_textures_node.get_input_port_index(0))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(texture2_node.get_output_port_index(), mix_textures_node.get_input_port_index(1))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(mix_factor_uniform.get_output_port_index(), mix_textures_node.get_input_port_index(2))

Texture blending controlled by a uniform value gives you the flexibility to adjust effects such as a character transitioning between two different states or blending environment textures to create variations in terrain without needing multiple materials.

Last, consider a scenario where we want to create a rim light effect based on the angle between the surface normal and the view direction:

// Rim light effect using surface normals and view direction
var surface_normal = VisualShaderNodeGlobalExpression.new()
surface_normal.set_global_expression("NORMAL")

var view_dir = VisualShaderNodeCameraExpression.new()
view_dir.set_camera_expression(VisualShaderNodeCameraExpression.BUILTIN_VIEW_DIRECTION)

var dot_product_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarOp.new()
dot_product_node.set_operator(VisualShaderNodeScalarOp.OP_DOT)

shader_graph.connect_nodes(surface_normal.get_output_port_index(), dot_product_node.get_input_port_index(0))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(view_dir.get_output_port_index(), dot_product_node.get_input_port_index(1))

var rim_light_effect_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
rim_light_effect_node.set_input_port_value(0, 0.0) // Red not affected by effect
rim_light_effect_node.set_input_port_value(1, 0.0) // Green not affected by effect
shader_graph.connect_nodes(dot_product_node.get_output_port_index(), rim_light_effect_node.get_input_port_index(2)) // Blue component shows rim effect
rim_light_effect_node.set_input_port_value(3, 1.0) // Full alpha

The shader calculates the dot product between the normal vector and the view direction to determine the intensity of the rim effect, creating visually appealing highlights that simulate a backlighting scenario.

These examples should illuminate the breadth of applications for the VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose class in Godot. By integrating visual nodes and understanding vector operations, you have the power to craft detailed and immersive graphics that align perfectly with your game’s artistic vision.Vectors not only help define spatial relationships but also play a key role in the parameterization of effects over time and space. Let’s consider the use of VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose to implement a gradually changing effect such as a day-to-night cycle based on game time.

// Day-to-night cycle
var time_node = VisualShaderNodeTime.new()
var day_color_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
day_color_node.set_input_port_value(0, 0.4) // Soft daylight red
day_color_node.set_input_port_value(1, 0.6) // Soft daylight green
day_color_node.set_input_port_value(2, 1.0) // Soft daylight blue

var night_color_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
night_color_node.set_input_port_value(0, 0.1) // Deep night red
night_color_node.set_input_port_value(1, 0.1) // Deep night green
night_color_node.set_input_port_value(2, 0.3) // Deep night blue

var day_night_mix_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorInterp.new()

// Connect nodes for day-night cycle
shader_graph.connect_nodes(time_node.get_output_port_index(), day_night_mix_node.get_input_port_index(2))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(day_color_node.get_output_port_index(), day_night_mix_node.get_input_port_index(0))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(night_color_node.get_output_port_index(), day_night_mix_node.get_input_port_index(1))

Here, we’re transitioning between two colors representing day and night, with the mix rate dictated by time. This type of effect could govern not just color but also other factors such as lighting intensity or fog density.

The flexibility can also stretch to morphing the shape or pattern of objects in 3D space, an excellent utility for games that require dynamic terrain or mutable environments:

// Terrain height variation based on noise
var uv_node = VisualShaderNodeUV.new()
var noise_node = VisualShaderNodeNoise.new()
var height_variation_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()

// Connect nodes to influence Y component (height) with noise
shader_graph.connect_nodes(uv_node.get_output_port_index(), noise_node.get_input_port_index(0))
shader_graph.connect_nodes(noise_node.get_output_port_index(), height_variation_node.get_input_port_index(1))

height_variation_node.set_input_port_value(0, 1.0) // X component unchanged
height_variation_node.set_input_port_value(2, 1.0) // Z component unchanged

This snippet employs noise to vary the height of the terrain dynamically, showcasing the terrain’s response to an imaginary environmental factor, perhaps wind or water flow.

Next, we can look at using visual shaders to influence material properties such as the reflectivity or metallic nature based on the object’s surface curvature, creating a more realistic rendering effect:

// Object's surface curvature affecting reflectivity
var curvature_node = VisualShaderNodeCurvature.new()
var metallic_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()

// Metallic property is enhanced in areas with greater curvature
shader_graph.connect_nodes(curvature_node.get_output_port_index(), metallic_node.get_input_port_index(0))

metallic_node.set_input_port_value(1, 0.0) // Green channel unused
metallic_node.set_input_port_value(2, 0.0) // Blue channel unused
metallic_node.set_input_port_value(3, 1.0) // Alpha channel fully opaque

In this application, the curvature node measures how much the surface of the object deviates from being flat, which we then translate to a greater or lesser metallic reflection.

For character-specific effects, such as a shield activation glow that responds to movement or impact, vectors can provide an elegant solution:

// Shield activation glow responding to movement
var movement_vector_node = VisualShaderNodeInput.new()
movement_vector_node.set_input_name("movement_vector")

var glow_intensity_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()

// Connect nodes to amplify shield glow based on movement magnitude
shader_graph.connect_nodes(movement_vector_node.get_output_port_index(), glow_intensity_node.get_input_port_index(0))

glow_intensity_node.set_input_port_value(1, 0.0) // Green channel unused in glow
glow_intensity_node.set_input_port_value(2, 1.0) // Blue channel maximized for visual effect
glow_intensity_node.set_input_port_value(3, 1.0) // Alpha channel fully opaque

By mapping the intensity of the glow to the character’s movement vector, we manage to create an immersive effect that naturally communicates the player’s actions to the audience.

Lastly, vectors can also be used to simulate environmental effects, such as the direction and intensity of rain in a weather system:

// Simulating rain direction and intensity
var rain_direction_node = VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose.new()
rain_direction_node.set_input_port_value(0, 0.0) // X direction (lateral)
rain_direction_node.set_input_port_value(1, -1.0) // Y direction (downward)
rain_direction_node.set_input_port_value(2, 0.0) // Z direction (depth)

var rain_intensity_node = VisualShaderNodeScalarUniform.new()
rain_intensity_node.set_uniform_name("rain_intensity")

// Use the composed direction and a scalar uniform to modulate rain in the fragment shader
// Connection would typically be made to a particle system or shader controlling rain rendering

By coupling directionality with a modulating intensity parameter, we can adjust the rain to different weather conditions, enhancing the game’s environmental storytelling.

Through these examples, you can see the breadth of VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose and how effectively it can be employed in a variety of game development scenarios. Whether tweaking material properties, animating environments, or enriching special effects, vector compositions empower creators to produce dynamic, intricate, and responsive experiences for players.

Where to Go Next in Your Game Development Journey

Now that we’ve explored the possibilities with Godot’s VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose, it’s time to put that knowledge to practical use and continue developing your game development skills. Dive deeper into the world of Godot with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. This comprehensive selection of courses will guide you through the many facets of game creation using the Godot 4 engine. From mastering 2D and 3D assets to scripting gameplay control flows and designing intuitive UIs, our curriculum is crafted to transform beginners into proficient developers.

Whether you aspire to create sleek platformers or engaging survival games, we provide a flexible learning environment that allows you to learn at your own pace. You’ll partake in projects across different genres, ensuring a rich, hands-on experience. And for those who want to browse an even wider range of topics, check out our full collection of Godot courses. Each step with us builds upon your expertise, helping you grow from a curious beginner to a skilled professional, ready to bring your unique game ideas to life. Keep learning, keep creating, and make your mark in the gaming world with Zenva.

Conclusion

Embracing the intricacies of VisualShaderNodeVectorCompose is a testament to the power and flexibility that Godot’s visual scripting offers. As we’ve seen, this class is crucial for creating impactful visual elements and dynamic interactions in your game. Remember, every great journey in game development is a mosaic of small, learned skills that coalesce into stunningly crafted experiences. By continuing your exploration of Godot with our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree, you’re not just accumulating knowledge; you’re empowering yourself to turn imaginative concepts into playable realities.

Stay curious, stay creative, and let us be part of your game development odyssey. With Zenva’s courses as your guide, there’s no limit to the worlds you can build and the stories you can tell. Broaden your horizons, refine your craft, and join the ranks of game developers who started their successful journey here, with us.

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