Godot Game Engine: A Beginner’s Guide

Codecademy Team
An introduction to Godot, the open-source game engine for creating immersive 2D and 3D games.

Do you ever find yourself lost in the world of video games, navigating through challenges, and exploring new realms? What if there was a way to create those worlds yourself? Imagine having the power to design your levels, characters, and adventures.

That is where Godot comes in. It is like having the ultimate game design studio at your fingertips, where your imagination is the only limit. Let us take a step into this world of game creation and unleash your inner game developer with Godot!

What is Godot?

Godot is an innovative game engine that has gained widespread recognition for its versatility and robust capabilities. With a user-friendly interface and powerful scripting tools, Godot provides developers with an efficient workflow for creating immersive games across various platforms.

Godot’s popularity in the game development world is attributed to its open-source model, rich feature set, and vibrant community, which empower developers to bring their creative visions to life with unparalleled ease and efficiency. To begin, we need to install the Godot Game Engine on our system.

Installation

To install the Godot game engine, we do the following:

Step 1: Visit the official website and download the game engine.

Godot_Game

You can choose between Godot 3 or 4 based on your preferences. Godot 3 is the stable version with long-term support (LTS), while Godot 4 offers innovative features and improvements, albeit with potentially less stability. Both versions provide a powerful and user-friendly platform for game development.

Step 2: After downloading, run the installer to launch the engine.

It is a quick setup that prepares you to start developing games with Godot’s powerful features and user-friendly interface!

Godot Interface Overview

Let us start by creating a project in Godot to kickstart our game development journey.

To begin, open Godot and click on “New Project”. Choose a project name and location to save your files.

Project_Creation

This is how your project will look once you create it:

Godot_Interface

In Godot, a game consists of nodes that developers group into scenes. So, what exactly are scenes and nodes?

  • Scenes in Godot are like various levels or parts of your game, made up of different pieces that work together to create specific elements such as levels, menus, or game-over screens.

  • Nodes, on the other hand, are the building blocks of scenes, representing different entities like characters, objects, or actions, akin to LEGO pieces that we can connect to construct our game with customizable properties for unique appearances and behaviors.

Having grasped the basics of scenes and nodes, let us now dive into navigating the core of game development, the Godot interface.

Scene Tab

Scene_Tab

Located in the top-left corner of the interface, the scene tab serves as our canvas for creating and organizing game environments, characters, objects, and more. Here is a breakdown of its elements:

  • 2D Scene: Design 2D game worlds with sprites, tile sets, cameras, and other elements.

  • 3D Scene: Craft immersive 3D games with objects, environments, lighting, and camera controls.

  • User Interface (UI): Create intuitive interfaces with buttons, labels, menus, and HUD elements.

  • Other Node Types: Add nodes for player control, physics interactions, AI behaviors, and more to enhance your game’s functionality.

Inspector Tab

Inspector_Tab

The Inspector tab, located on the right side of the interface in Godot, serves as a comprehensive tool for fine-tuning and customizing various aspects of game elements within a project. Its primary job is to provide developers with a detailed view and control over the properties, attributes, and settings of nodes and scenes. This includes tasks such as:

  • Viewing and modifying attributes like position, rotation, scale, visibility, and more for selected nodes in the scene.

  • Managing scripts associated with nodes, editing script variables, and accessing script functions directly from the Inspector tab.

  • Editing and managing resources such as textures, materials, sounds, and animations without leaving the Godot interface.

Node Tab

Node_Tab

The Node located next to the Inspector tab in Godot serves as a central hub for managing and organizing the building blocks of your game, known as nodes. Its primary job is to provide developers with tools and functionalities to:

  • Allow developers to add various nodes representing functionalities like sprites, cameras, physics bodies, UI elements, scripts, etc., to scenes.

  • Organize nodes hierarchically for structured relationships, customize node properties, connect nodes to scripts for custom behavior, and categorize nodes into several types for ease of access and management.

Fundamental Programming concepts in Godot

Let us explore the core principles of programming in Godot, which are essential for building interactive and dynamic game elements. This foundational knowledge includes fundamental coding concepts that enable developers to create engaging gameplay experiences within the engine.

Godot uses GDScript as its primary scripting language, a high-level, user-friendly language designed specifically for game development within the Godot engine. Notably, GDScript shares similarities with Python, making it accessible and intuitive for developers familiar with Python syntax and principles. Both GDScript and Python share similar syntax, although they use different keywords.

Let us explore the fundamental coding concepts used in Godot:

  1. Variables: A variable in programming is a storage location identified by a name, used to hold data that can be modified during program execution. In Godot, variables are declared using the “var” keyword followed by the variable name. Variables can store several types of data such as numbers, strings, arrays, or objects, enabling flexible and dynamic manipulation of values within your game scripts. Variables provide a way to label data with a descriptive name, making the code more readable and maintainable.

  2. Conditionals: Conditionals, also known as conditional programming, are constructs that allow the execution of certain code blocks based on whether a specified condition is true or false. In Godot, conditionals enable decision-making within scripts, allowing different actions to be taken depending on various criteria. The most common conditional statements are if, elif, and else, which check conditions and execute corresponding code blocks.

  3. Loops: Loops in programming are constructs that allow repeated execution of a block of code if a specified condition is met. In Godot, loops enable you to perform repetitive tasks efficiently, such as iterating over a collection of items or executing code a certain number of times. The most common types of loops are for and while.

  4. Functions: Functions in programming are reusable blocks of code designed to perform a specific task. In Godot, functions allow you to organize your code into modular sections, making it more readable and maintainable. Functions can take input parameters, perform operations, and return a result. You define a function using the func keyword, followed by the function name and any parameters.

Let’s use what we learned to create a simple game mechanism in Godot.

Game Mechanics Development

Let us dive into Game Mechanics Development, focusing on object control and interactions. Here, players define their controls, like key bindings, directly affecting how game objects respond. In Godot, the movement of objects can be controlled by using input even identifiers, or by custom event mapping.

Using Input Event Identifiers

Developers can use predefined input event identifiers, such as ui_right, ui_left, ui_up, and ui_down to detect user input from keyboard keys or gamepad directions. These identifiers correspond to specific actions, such as moving an object right, left, up, or down based on player input.

To practice this, you will create a project in Godot and apply input event identifiers.

After creating the project, navigate to the “Scene Tab” and choose the “2D Scene” option. This allows us to set up a 2D environment where you can add and arrange nodes.

Creating_2D_Scene

Next, organize the nodes under the scene tab as follows: under Node2D, add a KinematicBody2D and a StaticBody2D using the “+” symbol below the scene. Within the KinematicBody2D, include a Sprite and a CollisionShape2D. While in the StaticBody2D, add another Sprite and CollisionShape2D. A brief for these nodes is:

  • A KinematicBody2D can be moved programmatically and responds to collision detection, ideal for controlling player characters or objects with precise movement.

  • A StaticBody2D, on the other hand, remains stationary and is perfect for static elements like walls, platforms, or obstacles.

  • A Sprite is the visual image or texture of an object, while a CollisionShape2D defines its shape for collision detection, enabling object interactions in the game world.

In this scenario, the KinematicBody2D represents our player, while the StaticBody2D serves as the ground on which the player will navigate.

Nodes_Arrangement

Now, it is time to introduce your player to the screen. Begin by selecting the “Sprite” node under the “KinematicBody2D”. Drag the “icon.png” file from the file system located at the bottom, then drop it into the “Texture” field within the Inspector tab. Feel free to choose any player image you prefer.

Player_Introduction

Subsequently, select the “CollisionShape2D” node under the “KinematicBody2D” to specify the collision shape for our player. Inside the inspector tab’s Shape options, pick your desired collision shape for the sprite. In this case, we opted for the “New RectangleShape2D” and made the necessary adjustments.

Setting_Players_Collision_Shape

To move your sprite, click on the “KinematicBody2D”, then select the “Group Selected Node(s)” option at the top.

Player_Movement

Repeat the above steps for the ground, the sprite under the StaticBody2D.

Setting_the_Ground

To save this scene, in Windows, press Ctrl S. For Mac, use the S to save it.

Save_the_project

Click the Play button located in the top-right corner of the screen and choose the “Select Current” option to begin playing the current scene.

Play_Button

The game will appear with a player and ground element. Now, let us add a script to our kinematic body. Click on the “KinematicBody2D” and then select the script symbol to add the script file.

Script_Button

Provide a name for your script file and create it.

Code

Replicate the provided code in your script file, adjusting variable names and values as needed. The comments in the code will assist you in understanding its functionality. To assess the code’s functionality, click on the play button.

This is one way to control objects with input event identifiers. another way is custom event mapping.

Custom Event Mapping

Custom event mapping also enables users to define input mappings or key bindings for object movements. This empowers players to assign preferred keys or controller inputs, enhancing the gameplay experience.

To access this feature, navigate to “Project Settings” under the “Project” option. Existing inputs defined by Godot will be displayed in this section.

Default_Keys

You can delete the default inputs and set your key bindings by selecting the “Physical Key” option and assigning the desired keys for each action.

Add_Physical_Keys

You must select these keys for movement in four directions:

Customized_Keys

Please note that the code remains unchanged, however, the object will now respond to the specified keys.

By using custom event mapping, you can tailor the gameplay experience to suit your preferences and create a more immersive environment for players.

Conclusion

Throughout this tutorial, we discussed the fundamentals of the Godot interface, scripting essentials, and object movement. Here is a recap of what you have learned:

  • Understanding the Godot interface, including scenes, nodes, and the Inspector tab.

  • Exploring GDScript and its role in simplifying game logic and behaviors.

  • Implementing object movement using input event identifiers and custom event mapping.

This tutorial was a brief intro to what Godot can offer.

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