Displaying and Saving Scores

A frequently asked question from game developers new to Corona/Lua is "How do I keep score?" This tutorial will walk you through the entire process, including:

  1. Setting up a variable to hold the score.
  2. Displaying the score.
  3. Saving (and retrieving) the score for future use.

The Score Module

Corona does not have a built-in "score" module, so let's build one which you can implement in your apps, beginning with a basic initialization function.

To begin, create a new empty Lua file within your project directory. Name this file score.lua. Open the file in your text editor and insert the following code:

local M = {}

M.score = 0  -- Set the score to 0 initially

function M.init( options )

    local customOptions = options or {}
    local opt = {}
    opt.fontSize = customOptions.fontSize or 24
    opt.font = customOptions.font or native.systemFont
    opt.x = customOptions.x or display.contentCenterX
    opt.y = customOptions.y or opt.fontSize*0.5
    opt.maxDigits = customOptions.maxDigits or 6
    opt.leadingZeros = customOptions.leadingZeros or false

    local prefix = ""
    if ( opt.leadingZeros ) then 
        prefix = "0"
    M.format = "%" .. prefix .. opt.maxDigits .. "d"

    -- Create the score display object
    M.scoreText = display.newText( string.format( M.format, 0 ), opt.x, opt.y, opt.font, opt.fontSize )

    return M.scoreText

return M

Here, we first set up a basic module table M this table will contain all of the functions we create so that they can be called from whatever module includes this module. Following that, we set a score property for the M table and initially set it to 0. For the init() function, we accept one parameter, options, which is a Lua table of key-value pairs. The supported options include:

If any of the supported options are not specified, we fall back to reasonable defaults, in this case the default system font at 24 point size, centered at the top of the screen, with a maximum of 6 digits.

  • We could extend this with alignment properties and other settings. For example, we could add options to control the anchor point for left-aligned or right-aligned score text.

  • The score text uses the string.format() API to format the number. Here, the string will either be prefixed by spaces or by zeros, depending on the settings. This format setting is also saved to the module (M.format) for usage in other functions.

Set, Get, and Add Functions

Next, let's include some functions for setting, getting, and adding to the score:

function M.set( value )

    M.score = tonumber(value)
    M.scoreText.text = string.format( M.format, M.score )

function M.get()

    return M.score

function M.add( amount )

    M.score = M.score + tonumber(amount)
    M.scoreText.text = string.format( M.format, M.score )

return M

Let's quickly inspect these three new functions:

Saving and Loading the Score

The last thing our module needs is the ability to save and load the score. This is essential functionality if the score must be saved as a high score, in which case it must persist between app sessions:

function M.save()

    local saved = system.setPreferences( "app", { currentScore=M.score } )
    if ( saved == false ) then
        print( "ERROR: could not save score" )

function M.load()

    local score = system.getPreference( "app", "currentScore", "number" )

    if ( score ) then
        return tonumber(score)
        print( "ERROR: could not load score (score may not exist in storage)" )

return M

Both of these functions are relatively straightforward:

Using the Module

With our score.lua module created and the basic functions written, we can now use it within our app. In another scene or Lua module, for instance, the score module can be implemented like this:

local score = require( "score" )

local scoreText = score.init(
    fontSize = 20,
    font = "CoolCustomFont.ttf",
    x = display.contentCenterX,
    y = 30,
    maxDigits = 7,
    leadingZeros = true

The first line is the mandatory require() line which includes the score.lua module in the project, providing access to all of the functions we wrote above. The second block calls the module's init() function with a series of basic parameters. This creates the text display, centers it near the top of the screen, and sets it to a zero-filled 7-digit score.

From this point, the following actions can be executed with just one line:

Command Result
score.set( value ) Sets the score to value.
local currentScore = score.get() Gets the current score.
score.add( value ) Adds value to the current score.  
score.save() Saves the score to local storage.
local savedScore = score.load() Loads the previously-saved score.


Hopefully this tutorial illustrates just how easy it is to work with scores in Corona, including saving and loading scores to the device for persistence between app sessions.