A LÖVE animation primer

User Libraries

That is how you can create an animation from scratch using LÖVE's built-in tools. But you could also use anim8 [4], a LÖVE library that takes the drudgery out of animating sprites and lets you have the different frames on a grid (as opposed to just on a line) and pick what frames to use in an animation.

Like anim8, there are many other libraries for LÖVE, that apart from making animation easy, cover physics, isometric 3D tiles, collision detection, and much more. Before putting yourself through the hassle of programming a whole super-framework from scratch, check that someone hasn't already done it for you [5] – unless you are doing so to learn the basics. (Also, for a brief word about the editor you use for programming, see the box "Ideal IDE.")

Ideal IDE

Although your regular, favorite text editor will do just fine, there is some merit in going with ZeroBrane Studio [6] (Figure 4). Not only is it an efficient little editor with all the bells and whistles you need for Lua programming (syntax highlighting, text completion, file management, etc.), it also comes with hooks to a bunch of the most popular Lua interpreters, including LÖVE and Moai, another framework for gaming development.

Go to Project | Lua Interpreter in the menu, pick LÖVE from the list, and you'll be able to run and debug your game directly from the IDE.

Figure 4: ZeroBrane Studio is probably the best IDE for programming in Lua.

LÖVE Platforms

Your LÖVE games can be ported to other platforms, including Windows, iOS, and Android (Figure 5), and the LÖVE wiki explains in detail how to do that [7]. However, you can test-run your program on Android before you go to all the trouble of compiling or pushing it through a toolchain to get a native APK.

Figure 5: Cubey McCubeFace goes walking on an Android phone.

On your computer, you have to create a file called conf.lua, like the one in Listing 9.

Listing 9


01 function love.conf(t)
02     t.version = "XX.X"
03 end

"XX.X" is the version of the LÖVE interpreter on your computer. You can find this out by running the LÖVE interpreter from the command line with love. The version of LÖVE is shown in the titlebar.

Put conf.lua in the same directory as your main.lua file, enter the directory and zip everything up with

zip -9 -r YourGame.love .

You can choose a different name from YourGame, of course, but your zipped file must have the extension .love.

On your phone, download the LÖVE interpreter for Android from Google Play [8] and then copy the .love file from your computer over to your Android device. You'll be able to run it with your newly installed LÖVE interpreter.


We have only touched on one of the many superficial tasks you will have to carry out when creating your own game. However, my hope is to tempt you to get your toes wet and to help you get your head round the most basic principles of programming with LÖVE. As a fan of old-school, casual gaming, I can't wait to see what you do with it.


  1. LÖVE game framework: https://love2d.org
  2. Lua programming language: https://www.lua.org/
  3. LÖVE wiki: https://love2d.org/wiki/Tutorial:Callback_Functions
  4. The anim8 library for LÖVE: https://love2d.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=8281
  5. List of LÖVE libraries: https://www.love2d.org/wiki/Category:Libraries
  6. ZeroBrane Studio: https://studio.zerobrane.com/
  7. How to port your games to other platforms: https://love2d.org/wiki/Game_Distribution
  8. LÖVE interpreter for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.love2d.android

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