Bolt: Visual Scripting
As game developers, most of us grew up playing lots of video games. By looking at cues and colours to solve puzzles, defeat enemies and build worlds, we developed a very strong ability for visual learning. And yet now that the tables have turned, all the tools we have as creators require scripting — endless text files filled with lines of code. Why couldn’t we make game development as visual as the games themselves? After all, shouldn’t gamedev be fun?
That’s why we created Bolt: a revolutionary visual scripting tool built for the next generation of Unity game development. By leveraging the power of lightning speed reflection, Bolt allows you to use graphs to create any kind of game mechanic right from the editor, even while in play mode. No code, no compilation, no waiting: turn your ideas into reality in a matter of seconds. With Unity and Bolt your next game or VR experience could be only a few clicks away.
Bolt’s beautiful design is inspired from Unity’s native look and feel, so you’ll feel right at home in no time. Just like in the animator window, you create graphs by placing nodes and wiring them together with connections and transitions.
You can choose between two powerful types of graphs to visualize your logic. On one end, flow graphs work on an action-reaction pattern: “If this happens, what should I do, and in what order?”
On the other end, state graphs work like finite-state-machines (FSM): “If I’m in this state, how should I behave, and when should I change state?”
Don’t worry if that sounds a bit scary or confusing at first. The real power of Bolt is that you don’t have to plan everything ahead: you can build your graphs while in play mode, testing mechanics and prototyping as you go. Depending on your setup, your changes can either be saved or reverted when you exit play mode.
We really wanted to give artists and designers all the tools in Unity’s arsenal, not some restricted or dumbed down version of it. That’s why Bolt features full codebase compatibility: every engine feature, from physics to animation, is at your fingertips. You get access to all the same functions and parameters that programmers can use. It’s simple: if you can do it in code, you can do it in Bolt.
Even better: if you use third-party plugins from the Asset Store or custom scripts from your team, Bolt will automatically detect them and add them to its already massive node database of more than 20 000 options, allowing you to use them in graphs without any integration required.
Last but not least, Bolt lets you create macros to turn any complex graph into a single node to be reused in different places, even with different parameters. Nesting your logic like this will make sure you don’t repeat yourself and keep your project manageable as your game grows.
With these cutting edge features, Bolt marks the beginning of the next generation of visual scripting in Unity. And yet, there’s a lot more goodies packed inside than we had room for in this blog post. For example, Bolt’s unique predictive debugging detects potential errors before you even enter play mode! But best of all, there’s a lot more to come: with an active community and developer, Bolt is a living plugin under constant evolution. Have a look at our roadmap to get a sneak peek of what’s coming soon, like tweening, networking and more!
If you need a guiding hand to get you started, you can follow our step-by-step tutorial to create a full 2D platformer, complete with health points, enemies, obstacles and projectile attacks. Or if you’re the kind of person who reads the instruction manuals, you’ll find Bolt’s manual to be fully up to date and complete.
As the lead developer of Bolt, I look forward to see what you’ll create with it, and I’d be thrilled to hear what you think. Come share your suggestions and ideas on the community to shape the future of visual scripting in Unity!
Cheers and happy gamedev, ⚡️
— Lazlo Bonin Lead Developer, Ludiq