Scripting (continued)


Several actions in Godot are triggered by callbacks or virtual functions, so there is no need to check for writing code that runs all the time. Additionally, a lot can be done with animation players.

However, it is still a very common case to have a script process on every frame. There are two types of processing: idle processing and fixed processing.

Idle processing is activated automatically when the method Node._process() is found in a script. It can be turned off (and back on) with the Node.set_process() function.

This method will be called every frame drawn, so it’s fully depend on the frames per second (FPS) of the application:

func _process(delta):
    # do something...

The delta parameter describes the time elapsed (in seconds, as floating point) since the previous call to “_process()”.

Fixed processing is similar, but only needed for synchronization with the physics engine. It is called a fixed amount of times per second (defined in the Project Settings, but 60 by default).

A simple way to test this is to create a scene with a single Label node, with the following script:

extends Label

var accum=0

func _process(delta):
    accum += delta
    text = (str(accum) # text is a built-in label property

Which will show a counter increasing each frame.


Nodes can be added to groups (as many as desired per node). This is a simple yet useful feature for organizing large scenes. There are two ways to do this: the first is from the UI, from the Groups button under the Node panel:


And the second from code. One useful example would be to tag scenes which are enemies.

func _ready():

This way, if the player is discovered sneaking into the secret base, all enemies can be notified about the alarm sounding, by using SceneTree.call_group():

func _on_discovered(): # this is a fictional function
    get_tree().call_group("guards", "player_was_discovered")

The above code calls the function “player_was_discovered” on every member of the group “guards”.

Optionally, it is possible to get the full list of “guards” nodes by calling SceneTree.get_nodes_in_group():

var guards = get_tree().get_nodes_in_group("guards")

More will be added about SceneTree later.


Godot has a system of notifications. This is usually not needed for scripting, as it’s too low level and virtual functions are provided for most of them. It’s just good to know they exist. Simply add a Object._notification() function in your script:

func _notification(what):
    if (what == NOTIFICATION_READY):
        print("This is the same as overriding _ready()...")
    elif (what == NOTIFICATION_PROCESS):
        var delta = get_process_time()
        print("This is the same as overriding _process()...")

The documentation of each class in the Class Reference shows the notifications it can receive. However, for most cases GDScript provides simpler overrideable functions.

Overrideable functions

Nodes provide many useful overrideable functions, which are described as follows:

func _enter_tree():
    # When the node enters the _Scene Tree_, it becomes active
    # and  this function is called. Children nodes have not entered
    # the active scene yet. In general, it's better to use _ready()
    # for most cases.

func _ready():
    # This function is called after _enter_tree, but it ensures
    # that all children nodes have also entered the _Scene Tree_,
    # and became active.

func _exit_tree():
    # When the node exits the _Scene Tree_, this function is called.
    # Children nodes have all exited the _Scene Tree_ at this point
    # and all became inactive.

func _process(delta):
    # This function is called every frame.

func _fixed_process(delta):
    # This is called every physics frame.

func _paused():
    # Called when game is paused. After this call, the node will not receive
    # any more process callbacks.

func _unpaused():
    # Called when game is unpaused.

As mentioned before, it’s best to use these functions.

Creating nodes

To create a node from code, just call the ”.new()” method (like for any other class-based datatype). Example:

var s
func _ready():
    s = # create a new sprite!
    add_child(s) # add it as a child of this node

To delete a node, be it inside or outside the scene, “free()” must be used:

func _someaction(): # immediately removes the node from the scene and frees it

When a node is freed, it also frees all its children nodes. Because of this, manually deleting nodes is much simpler than it appears. Just free the base node and everything else in the sub-tree goes away with it.

However, it might happen very often that we want to delete a node that is currently “blocked”, because it is emitting a signal or calling a function. This will result in crashing the game. Running Godot in the debugger often will catch this case and warn you about it.

The safest way to delete a node is by using Node.queue_free(). This erases the node safely during idle.

func _someaction():
    s.queue_free() # remove the node and delete it while nothing is happening

Instancing scenes

Instancing a scene from code is pretty easy and done in two steps. The first one is to load the scene from disk.

var scene = load("res://myscene.tscn") # will load when the script is instanced

Preloading it can be more convenient sometimes, as it happens at parse time.

var scene = preload("res://myscene.tscn") # will load when parsing the script

But ‘scene’ is not yet a node for containing subnodes. It’s packed in a special resource called PackedScene. To create the actual node, the function PackedScene.instance() must be called. This will return the tree of nodes that can be added to the active scene:

var node = scene.instance()

The advantage of this two-step process is that a packed scene may be kept loaded and ready to use, so it can be used to create as many instances as desired. This is especially useful to quickly instance several enemies, bullets, etc., in the active scene.