Implementation Notes

This section is for developers who want to add more features to the Lua support in widelands (or that want to track down bugs). This contains notes about how certain things are implemented and how to add to it.


This section is not for scenario designers, only for developers working directly on widelands.

Hooks into the Game

The scripting interface is defined in scripting/scripting.h. It consists of the two classes LuaInterface for running scripts and LuaCouroutine which wraps a Lua coroutine. The Lua interface is accessed via the lua() function in Editor_Game_Base.

There are two game commands for lua: Cmd_LuaScript and Cmd_LuaCoroutine. The first one is only used to enqueue the initial running of the initialization scripts in maps (and later on also for win conditions). These scripts are responsible to start coroutines – everything from then on is handled via the second packet: Cmd_LuaCoroutine. When a coroutine yields, it is expected to return the time when it wants to be reawakened. Widelands wraps this coroutine in a LuaCoroutine object and enqueues a Cmd_LuaCoroutine to awake and continue the execution of the coroutine. When a coroutine ends, it is deleted and Widelands forgets about it.

When entering a Lua command into the debug console, none of the above mechanisms are used, instead the string is directly executed via LuaInterface::interpret_string. This means that this is only run on the current machine and that means that it could desync network games if it alters the game state in some way. It is an extremely powerful debug tool though.

Lua Classes

Lua uses the prototype principle for OOP, that is an Instance of a class knows how to clone itself. C++ uses a class based approach. Starting from a thin wrapper implementation from the Lua users wiki called Luna I implemented a easy wrapper for C++ classes that supports inheritance and properties. The implementation can be found in scripting/luna*. There are many examples of wrapped classes in the code, so this is just a short rundown of what to do:

Write the class, make sure that inheritance matches the one you want to have in Lua later one (that is L_Immovable must be a child of L_MapObject). All classes must be derived from LunaClass. Each class must then contain a call to LUNA_CLASS_HEAD(klassname) in it’s public definitions. This defines static tables for properties and methods and the name for this class. The filling of this data is usually done in the corresponding implementation file. A small excerpt for the L_Player class looks like so:

const char L_Player::className[] = "Player"; // Name of this class
const MethodType<L_Player> L_Player::Methods[] = {
   METHOD(L_Player, __eq),  // compare operator
   METHOD(L_Player, place_flag), // a method called place_flag
   {0, 0}, // end of methods table
const PropertyType<L_Player> L_Player::Properties[] = {
   PROP_RO(L_Player, number), // Read only property
   PROP_RW(L_Player, name), // Read write property
   {0, 0, 0},

Each method and getters and setters must be defined inside the class. Continuing this example, this would mean Player must at least define the following public functions to satisfy it’s definition tables:

int L_Player::__eq(lua_State *);
int L_Player::place_flag(lua_State *);
int L_Player::get_number(lua_State *);
int L_Player::get_name(lua_State *);
int L_Player::set_name(lua_State *);

Luna Classes need even more boilerplate to work correctly. Firstly, they must define a function get_modulename that returns a const char * which will be the submodule name where this class is registered. For our example, Player would return "game" because it is defined in

The class must also define two constructors, one that takes no arguments and is only used to create an empty class that is created for unpersisting, and a second one that takes a lua_State * that is called when the construction is requested from Lua, that is if is called. Some (most?) classes can’t be constructed from Lua and should then answer with report_error().

Additionally, a function __persist(lua_State *) and a function __unpersist(lua_State *) must be defined. They are discussed in the next section.


When a savegame is created, the current environment of Lua is persisted. For this, I used a library called Eris.

The global environment is persisted into the file map/globals.dump. Everything is persisted except of the Lua build-in functions and everything in the wl table and some of our own global functions. Those are c-functions that can not be written out to disk portably. Everything else can be saved, that is also everything in the auxiliary scripts are saved to disk, so save games only depend on the API defined inside the Widelands.

Coroutines are persisted in their Cmd_LuaCoroutine package.

Luna classes have to implement two functions to be properly persistable:

__persist(lua_State *)

This function is called with an empty table on top of the stack. It is expected that this function stores persistable data into this table. This table is then persisted instead of the object. Some convenience macros are defined in luna.h to ease this task (e.g. PERS_UINT32).

__unpersist(lua_State *)

On loading, an instance of the user object is created via the default constructor. This function is then called with the table that was created by __persist() as an upvalue (because it is inside a closure). The object is then expected to recreate it’s former state with this table. There are equivalent unpersisting macros defined to help with this task (e.g. UNPERS_UINT32).

Widelands reassigns some serial number upon saving and restores them upon loading. Some Luna classes need this information (for example MapObject). Access is provided via the functions get_mol(lua_State *) to the Map_Map_Object_Loader and get_mos(lua_State *) to the Map_Map_Object_Saver. These function return 0 when not called in __persist and __unpersist.


Lua support is currently tested in two different scenarios. Both life in src/scripting/test and they work essentially the same: they are normal scenarios which contain a Lua unittest framework named lunit that the author agreed to be used in widelands like that. The scripts than use various Lua functions and check that they do the expected things.

If you add new features to the Lua support of Widelands, consider also adding tests in the appropriate places in the test suite. This guarantees that nothing unexpected happens in scenarios and it will show the most common bugs quite easily.


This is the main test suite that checks for all functionality except for persistence. It can be run like this from a shell:

$ ./widelands --scenario=src/scripting/test/ts.wmf

or equivalent under windows. The output of the test suite goes the stdout, just like the output from widelands. It is therefore sometimes a little difficult to find the output from the tests. If all tests pass, widelands will be terminated again and somewhere in the output something like this should be visible:

#### Test Suite finished.

353 Assertions checked. All Tests passed!

If the test suite fails, widelands will be kept running and the error message of the failed test will be visible in the output. This is then a bug and should be reported.


This is a much shorter script that only checks if some data is correctly saved and reloaded again. It is also used to check compatibility of savegames between different versions. First, you need to run it as scenario:

$ ./widelands --scenario=src/scripting/test/persistence.wmf

This will result in the creation of various Lua objects. Widelands will then immediately safe the game as lua_persistence.wgf and exit. You can then load this game:

$ widelands --loadgame=~/.widelands/save/lua_persistence.wgf

This will check that all objects were loaded correctly. If everything worked out, the following string will be printed to stdout:

################### ALL TEST PASS!

Otherwise an error is printed.