Learning to LÖVE is a series of tutorials and articles teaching the ins and outs of building games with the LÖVE engine. LÖVE is a great tool for people new to building games. It can serve seasoned developers, too, as a straight forward way to bring game ideas to life.
This first installment of Learning to LÖVE will get you up and running quickly with LÖVE installed, as well as a recommended editor and extensions that make working with LÖVE games easier. You’re going to install LÖVE to run your games, the Atom text editor to work on your games, and several extensions to Atom that help you write Lua, the programming language LÖVE uses, and to run and test your games.
This targets Windows users, but most of the details will work on other platforms. OSX and Linux versions of this article should be available at some point in the future.
Let’s get started by installing LÖVE itself first.
You can get LÖVE from the project’s website love2d.org. The downloads are first and foremost on the main page, so you can easily find them! I recommend grabbing the “64-bit Installer” option. This will be the easiest to work with, including with the extra tools we’ll be adding next.
Just walk through the installer steps and you’ll have LOVE installed in no time.
Next, we’ll install Atom, our text editor of choice. I’m recommending Atom for three crucial reasons for people new to programming:
Atom is a free text editor
Atom is easy to use
Atom has great extensions, including ones that make working with LÖVE a breeze
Just like LÖVE itself, the Atom website makes the download option front and center. You can find it at atom.io, so go there and download the installer now.
Atom doesn’t even require any installer steps. It will install automatically, so just wait for it to complete. Atom is larger than LÖVE itself, so the wait is just a bit longer.
When Atom is done installing, it should open itself automatically. If it doesn’t, you should find it in your Windows menu, so go ahead and open it. You’ll be presented with a lot of first time options. If they are daunting, don’t worry: I’ll walk you through the things you need today.
The first thing you’ll see is the Atom settings and a collection of “Get to know Atom!” options to make it easy to start customizing. The first thing we want to do is “Install a Package” so we click “Open Installer”, search for “love-ide”, and click the “Install” button when the package comes up in the search results.
Atom will run through the package installation steps. It will ask you a few times if you want to install dependencies. Answer “yes” each time. These are just other packages that the one we want depends on to do its job of making LÖVE easier to work with.
When all of these packages are completed you can close the Welcome tab on the right and focus on the settings. Click the settings button on the love-ide package, which should still be present. We’re going to make some small customizations to ensure it works with the version of LÖVE we have installed.
The main thing we want to do is configure Atom to use the debug version of LÖVE , so that we can get information when our code fails. In the first setting, which is labeled “Path to Love Executable”, enter this: C:\Program Files\LOVE\lovec.exe
That’s all the customizations we’re doing right now!
This article is all about getting setup. We’ll make our first game in the next installment, but I’ll at least show you the first tastes of what the process will look like. So we’ll create an empty project and run it to see the most basic LÖVE program run with an empty screen, but its a start!
Click the “File” menu in Atom and select “Open Folder…”
When the dialog appears, click the “New folder” button in the top left and name your first project. We can call it “My First Love Game”.
Now we just want to create a standard file for LÖVE called “main.lua”. All LÖVE games begin with this file, the main script that runs your game. Right click on your project folder and select “New File”, name the file “main.lua” and press enter.
Now you can use love-ide’s LÖVE run button, in your toolbar on the top left, to run this empty script to see the start of your first game run… sort of! It’s just an empty window for now, but you’ll be packing lots of great stuff in that space soon enough.
In the next installment of Learning to LÖVE , we’re going to take this empty script and fill it with our first real game. I hope you’re excited to get into the world of game making!