LÖVE for Lua Game Programming

5 (2 reviews total)
By Darmie Akinlaja
    Advance your knowledge in tech with a Packt subscription

  • Instant online access to over 7,500+ books and videos
  • Constantly updated with 100+ new titles each month
  • Breadth and depth in over 1,000+ technologies

About this book

LÖVE is a game development framework for making 2D games using the Lua programming language. LÖVE is totally free, and can be used in anything from friendly open-source hobby projects, to closed-source commercial ones. Using the Lua programming framework, one can use LÖVE2D to make any sort of interesting games.

LÖVE for Lua Game Programming will quickly and efficiently guide you through how to develop a video game from idea to prototype. Even if you are new to game programming, with this book, you will soon be able to create as many game titles as you wish without stress.

The LÖVE framework is the quickest and easiest way to build fully-functional 2D video games. It leverages the Lua programming language, which is known to be one of the easiest game development languages to learn and use. With this book, you will master how to develop multi-platform games for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. After downloading and installing LÖVE, you will learn by example how to draw 2D objects, animate characters using sprites, and how to create game physics and game world maps.

LÖVE for Lua Game Programming makes it easier and quicker for you to learn everything you need to know about game programming. If you’re interested in game programming, then this book is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Publication date:
October 2013


Chapter 1. Getting Started with LÖVE

LÖVE is a fantastic framework that leverages the Lua scripting language for developing 2D games; it is open source, free to use, and licensed under zlib/libpng. You can learn more about Lua programming at www.lua.org.

In this chapter we'll go through the following:

  • All we need to get started with LÖVE

  • How to install LÖVE

  • How to run a LÖVE game

  • Choosing the editors

And a step further to understand the basic structure that makes a LÖVE game.


Downloading LÖVE

Before we build our game, we need a copy of LÖVE's engine running on our computer; a copy of the framework installed will help the computer to interpret the code we will be writing.

Direct your web browser to www.love2d.org, scroll to the download section of the site and choose the installer that is compatible with your computer.

It is advisable that we download an installer instead of the source codes, except for when we want to be geeky and build it ourselves.


For Windows users

When you are through with downloading the installer, run the setup and follow the instructions.

When your installation is complete, run the program; you should see a the window displaying a beautiful animation on the screen.


For Linux users

Linux users are required to download the .deb install file by clicking on build number of their operating system; users running Precise Pangolin Ubuntu OS should click on the 12.04 link. Run the install program and follow the instructions. If the LÖVE framework is fully installed, you can double-click on a .love file to run it.


For Mac users

Mac users should visit the LÖVE wiki (https://www.love2d.org/wiki/Getting_Started) page for instructions on how to install LÖVE and run a packaged game.

Choosing your editor

In choosing a suitable editor, you can use any text editor that supports the Lua programming language; we recommend Notepad++; it is free and has a clean and non-confusing GUI.

Running a LÖVE game

First of all, we assume we do not have any LÖVE game yet. OK, then let's just write a simple "Hello World!" program and run it with LÖVE. Open up a text editor and write the following Lua code:

--create a display

function love.draw()
--display a text on a 800 by 600 screen in the positions x= 400, and --y=300
   love.graphics.print('hello world!', 400, 300)


Now save this code as main.lua. Open a folder for your game project, put your main.lua file inside the folder, and compress the content of the folder. Change the .zip extension to .love. You'll notice a change in the icon of the compressed file; it changes to a LÖVE logo. Now that we've done all that, we can run our game. If you follow the instructions correctly, you should see a screen similar to the following screenshot:

If you do not compress the file properly, you will get the following blue screen displaying error information:

Note that it is the content of your game folder that should be compressed and not the folder itself, and make sure the main.lua file is at the top level.

Basic structure of LÖVE

There are three basic functions that make up a LÖVE game that are essential in most of the games you will be designing with LÖVE. For now, the following are the basics to make a small game:

  • love.load(): This preloads all the necessary assets we need to make our game.

  • love.update(dt): This is where we do most of our maths, where we deal with events; it is called before a frame is drawn. dt is the time it takes to draw a frame (in seconds).

  • love.draw(): This draws all that we want to display on the screen.


The basic structure of the game is done as you can see in the following code:

--load our assets
function love.load()
   --load all assets here

--update event
function love.update(dt)
--do the maths

--draw display
function love.draw()
--describe how you want/what to draw.

That's just it, well... maybe! So let's play with these chunks one more time.

Now let's edit main.lua to enable loading sample assets that we want to use within the game:

function love.load()

   local myfont = love.graphics.newFont(45)




function love.update()


function love.draw()

   love.graphics.print('Hello World!', 200, 200)



Before you go on and start coding your game, you need to give your video game some specs such as window width, window height, and window title. So set up a new file named conf.lua; inside it you can then create your game specs as shown in the following code snippet:

function love.conf(w)

w.screen.width = 1024 

w.screen.height = 768

w.screen.title = "Goofy's Adventure"


You can manipulate the figures and titles any way and also change that w to whatever variable you want.

The preceding code does the following:

  • Loads our font

  • Sets the font color

  • Sets the background color

  • Draws text on the screen

  • Configures the screen size

Basically we are using the love.graphics module; it can be used to draw (in the real sense) texts, images, and any drawable object in the scene. In the previous code snippets, we defined our fonts with the love.graphics.newFont(45) that formats our text by declaring the size of the font as 45. setFont() loads the font we defined as myfont, setColor() colors the text in the RGB format, and setBackgroundColor() sets the background.

Then we printed text using the love.graphics.print('text', x, y) function in the draw function with three parameters parsed in it: the text and the x and y coordinates. We are not going to do anything in the love.update() function yet, because we are not dealing with scene events.

So let's load our game as a .love file and see what it displays:



Now we can grab a mug of cappuccino with Ray-Bans on and smile; we have installed the LÖVE game engine, text editor, and Visual tile-level editor (Tiled). We have also got a quick look at the basic structure for writing our game in Lua and displayed "Hello World!" in a colored background window. Next we'll go through how to draw 2D objects, move objects, and animate character sprites.

About the Author

  • Darmie Akinlaja

    Darmie Akinlaja is a physicist and software developer who actively develops and contributes to the architecture of RubiQube—a cross-platform mobile application that gives users access to a variety of innovative HTML5 applications based on their location. He serves as the Head of Mobile at MobiQube Ltd., a software company located in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, where he's dedicated to developing rich mobile applications for clients. In 2008, Darmie supported his college best friend in developing a social network, which enjoyed its moment of fame at the Federal University of Technology, Akure. In 2011, his interest in video games and animations deepened, so he founded a video game production start-up, Gigaware Enterprise, with the goal of creating the best quality and fun games with local African contexts. Darmie's passion for technology began at the age of 7 when he had his first encounter with a computer system; ever since, his curiosity has helped him discover a lot about technology and also helped him learn everything by himself.

    Browse publications by this author

Latest Reviews

(2 reviews total)
Good service quick and simple
As I have seen how Love works, I decide to give and try and I decided to buy this book with Packt.
Book Title
Unlock this book and the full library for FREE
Start free trial