TSCN file format

The TSCN (text scene) file format represents a single scene tree inside Godot. Unlike binary SCN files, TSCN files have the advantage of being mostly human-readable and easy for version control systems to manage.

The ESCN (exported scene) file format is identical to the TSCN file format, but is used to indicate to Godot that the file has been exported from another program and should not be edited by the user from within Godot. Unlike SCN and TSCN files, during import, ESCN files are compiled to binary SCN files stored inside the .godot/imported/ folder. This reduces the data size and speeds up loading, as binary formats are faster to load compared to text-based formats.

To make files more compact, properties equal to the default value are not stored in scene/resource files. It is possible to write them manually, but they will be discarded when saving the file.

For those looking for a complete description, the parsing is handled in the file resource_format_text.cpp in the ResourceFormatLoaderText class.


The scene and resource file formats have changed significantly in Godot 4, with the introduction of string-based UIDs to replace incremental integer IDs.

Mesh, skeleton and animation data is also stored differently compared to Godot 3. You can read about some of the changes in this article: Animation data rework for 4.0

Scenes and resources saved with Godot 4.x contain format=3 in their header, whereas Godot 3.x uses format=2 instead.

File structure

There are five main sections inside the TSCN file:

  1. File descriptor

  2. External resources

  3. Internal resources

  4. Nodes

  5. Connections

The file descriptor looks like [gd_scene load_steps=4 format=3 uid="uid://cecaux1sm7mo0"] and should be the first entry in the file. The load_steps parameter is equal to the total amount of resources (internal and external) plus one (for the file itself). If the file has no resources, load_steps is omitted. The engine will still load the file correctly if load_steps is incorrect, but this will affect loading bars and any other piece of code relying on that value.

uid is an unique string-based identifier representing the scene. This is used by the engine to track files that are moved around, even while the editor is closed. Scripts can also load UID-based resources using the uid:// path prefix to avoid relying on filesystem paths. This makes it possible to move around a file in the project, but still be able to load it in scripts without having to modify the script. Godot does not use external files to keep track of IDs, which means no central metadata storage location is required within the project. See this pull request for detailed information.

These sections should appear in order, but it can be hard to distinguish them. The only difference between them is the first element in the heading for all of the items in the section. For example, the heading of all external resources should start with [ext_resource ...].

A TSCN file may contain single-line comments starting with a semicolon (;). However, comments will be discarded when saving the file using the Godot editor. Whitespace within a TSCN file is not significant (except within strings), but extraneous whitespace will be discarded when saving the file.

Entries inside the file

A heading looks like [<resource_type> key1=value1 key2=value2 key3=value3 ...] where resource_type is one of:

  • ext_resource

  • sub_resource

  • node

  • connection

Below every heading comes zero or more key = value pairs. The values can be complex datatypes such as Arrays, Transforms, Colors, and so on. For example, a Node3D looks like:

[node name="Cube" type="Node3D"]
transform = Transform3D(1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3)

The scene tree

The scene tree is made up of… nodes! The heading of each node consists of its name, parent and (most of the time) a type. For example: [node name="PlayerCamera" type="Camera" parent="Player/Head"]

Other valid keywords include:

  • instance

  • instance_placeholder

  • owner

  • index (sets the order of appearance in the tree; if absent, inherited nodes will take precedence over plain ones)

  • groups

The first node in the file, which is also the scene root, must not have a parent="Path/To/Node" entry in its heading. All scene files should have exactly one scene root. If it doesn't, Godot will fail to import the file. The parent path of other nodes should be absolute, but shouldn't contain the scene root's name. If the node is a direct child of the scene root, the path should be ".". Here is an example scene tree (but without any node content):

[node name="Player" type="Node3D"]                    ; The scene root
[node name="Arm" type="Node3D" parent="."]            ; Parented to the scene root
[node name="Hand" type="Node3D" parent="Arm"]         ; Child of "Arm"
[node name="Finger" type="Node3D" parent="Arm/Hand"]  ; Child of "Hand"


To make the file structure easier to grasp, you can saving a file with any given node or resource then inspect it yourself in an external editor. You can also make incremental changes in the Godot editor, and keep an external text editor open on the .tscn or .tres file with auto-reload enabled to see what changes.

Here is an example of a scene containing a RigidBody3D-based ball with collision, visuals (mesh + light) and a camera parented to the RigidBody3D:

[gd_scene load_steps=4 format=3 uid="uid://cecaux1sm7mo0"]

[sub_resource type="SphereShape3D" id="SphereShape3D_tj6p1"]

[sub_resource type="SphereMesh" id="SphereMesh_4w3ye"]

[sub_resource type="StandardMaterial3D" id="StandardMaterial3D_k54se"]
albedo_color = Color(1, 0.639216, 0.309804, 1)

[node name="Ball" type="RigidBody3D"]

[node name="CollisionShape3D" type="CollisionShape3D" parent="."]
shape = SubResource("SphereShape3D_tj6p1")

[node name="MeshInstance3D" type="MeshInstance3D" parent="."]
mesh = SubResource("SphereMesh_4w3ye")
surface_material_override/0 = SubResource("StandardMaterial3D_k54se")

[node name="OmniLight3D" type="OmniLight3D" parent="."