How easy is it to create distributable game from Love2D source code and what platforms you can distribute your LÖVE game on?
There are many questions regarding this in Love Forums and not many clear answers. Be prepared: except for Windows it is a tedious process.
Simple answer: You can distribute your Love2D game on desktop (Windows, Mac, Linux or via Steam) as well as on mobile (Android APK / GooglePlay) and for web (Love2D web player).
Easy (all desktops and Android): love-release
Download and use love-release script that automatically creates files (it requires zip, unzip and curl to work) required for the platforms you choose. This software will create game release for these platforms automatically:
- .exe for Windows
- .app for Mac
- .deb for Debian-based distros
- .apk for Android mobile
- .love for others (see Linux section below for nicer approach)
Windows: .exe file
Zip (pack) your complete directory of the LÖVE source code and rename this .zip file to .love file. After creating a single .love file, use official love.exe file and join it with your .love file:
copy /b love.exe+YOURFILE.love YOUR FILE.exe
This will create YOURFILE.exe that you can distribute separately (executable file) or optionally you can use some installer for the distribution.
More info on distributing for Windows on Wiki of Love2D.
Mac: .app file
You need to first extract the official Love2D .app file and copy your source code (join) into this extracted .app file: .app/Contents/Resources/ directory. You will also need to modify info on the file located in: .app/Contents/Info.plist. Now zip (pack) the .app file and it is ready to be distributed.
Linux: multiple options
Update (August 19th, 2014): Simple Love Linux Distribution project allows you to package your .love file into the ready-made package that will take care of running the game for a user. It won’t install LÖVE software, it will only run the game! Any distro with glibc 2.15+ is supported including Ubuntu 12.04+, openSUSE 13.1+, Linux Mint 13+ and Fedora 20+. This approach should work with Steam as well.
There is no unified way to distribute files under Linux as there are many different Linux distros available. You can depend on bash .sh scripts or on .bin/.run scripts that will contain bash instructions (e.g. create this directory, start unzipping this etc.) and have also a binary part that contains your packed source code.
For Ubuntu, you can create a .deb file that will list its dependencies: love and liblove. Creating such a file by hand might be tedious. Use love-release as recommended above.
You can however distribute .love file and ask users to install LÖVE through their package manager (mostly deb and rpm based distros).
Android: .apk file / Google Play store
You will need to use love-android-sdl2 (debug) package to pack your .love file for distributing on Android as .apk file. If you want to sell (or offer) your Love2D game in Google Play store, you will need to register.
Steam / Steamworks: Web API
Developers interested in distributing their LÖVE games via Valve’s Steam need to register at their website for partners to get more info on the distribution process. You can then submit your game via Steam Greenlight.
Web: LÖVE player
You can see this example of a web player. You can also download the source code of the web player to put it on your website. Even more information is in this wiki.
Details on distributing Love2D games
More information on the topic of distributing your .love games is available on the official wiki.