Implementing a Health Status Bar in Corona SDK

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Implementing a Health Status Bar in Corona SDK

Many games need a way to show the players how well they are doing. It could be a simple counter to show the number of lives left or a bar that decreases and increases as a players energy goes up and down.

There are as many different ways to do this as there are games but lets look at a couple of different ways.

The simplest may be simply using text to display the health status:

Then later in your code when a player looses a life (or gains one back) simply change the text value of “livesValue” and Corona will magically update the value for you:

Of course you might want to drop a graphic behind the text, set the colors accordingly, and possibly drop a duplicate text string underneath offset by a pixel to give a little stroke/shadow to the text.

But our players expect more from games and a simple text display won’t be accepted as high quality. Traditional arcade games have shown your lives as small versions of your player’s graphic. If your game involves a ship, perhaps you see a display of 5 little ships to show your life count.

With a display of say 5 small rockets, you will need one image and you will replicate it several times.

This will create a display of 5 little icons that shows your full life status. Later in your code when you need to change the display:

Later when you need to give a life back:

But what if you want more of a bar-graph display. As long as you’re using discrete values, you can continue to use a similar method using different graphics for each value, in this example, there are 5 lives, so you can create 5 different graphics for each of the 5 life states.

Instead of using a loop to load in the same graphic, you would need to load in each of the separate five graphics in and position them all at the same location:

Then to change the graphic:

This same concept can be done with MovieClips.

Then to show the current health level:
lives = lives – 1
if lives < 0 then
lives = 0
if lives == 0 then
healthSprites:play{startGrame=6, endFrame=6, loop=1, remove=false}
healthSprites:play{startFrame=1, endFrame=lives, loop=1, remove=false}
This gives you the benefit of a little animation as well. Unlike the example above, we load in the “No life left” graphic in frame 6, because movieclip starts at frame 1. We could have put frame 0 first, and just done a “lives + 1” to get the right offset.

Hope this is helpful!


5 Responses to “Implementing a Health Status Bar in Corona SDK”

  1. Emanouel

    just wondering how i would implement the health bar into storybaord. i tried accessing in another scene but nothing happens. heres my code


    -- main.lua
    display.setStatusBar( display.HiddenStatusBar )

    -- require controller module
    local storyboard = require "storyboard"
    local widget = require "widget" = 100

    -- comment out below four lines to remove FPS status
    --local fps = require("fps")
    --local performance =;, = 50, 0;
    --performance.alpha = 0.2; -- So it doesn't get in the way of the rest of the scene

    -- load first screen
    storyboard.gotoScene( "scene1", "fade", 400 )

    storyboard.healthLabel = display.newText("Health: ", 10, 295, native.systemFont, 16)
    storyboard.healthValue = display.newText(string.format("%d",, storyboard.healthLabel.contentWidth+20,295,native.systemFontBold, 16)


    -- ROOM 2
    local storyboard = require( "storyboard" )
    local scene = storyboard.newScene()
    local lastScene = storyboard.getPrevious()
    print( -- should print 100.

    local background, room3, room5, room7

    -- Touch event listener for background image
    local function gotoRoom3( self, event )
    if event.phase == "began" then

    storyboard.gotoScene( "scene3", "fade", 400 ) = + 75
    return true

    local function gotoRoom5( self, event )
    if event.phase == "began" then

    storyboard.gotoScene( "scene5", "fade", 400 )

    return true

    local function gotoRoom7( self, event )
    if event.phase == "began" then

    storyboard.gotoScene( "scene7", "fade", 400 )

    return true

    -- Called when the scene's view does not exist:
    function scene:createScene( event )
    local screenGroup = self.view

    background = display.newImage( "assets/graphics/Room2.png", 0, 0 )
    screenGroup:insert( background )

    room3 = display.newImage( "assets/graphics/gotoRoom3.png", 5, 130 )
    screenGroup:insert( room3 )

    room3.touch = gotoRoom3

    room5 = display.newImage( "assets/graphics/gotoRoom5.png", 175, 5 )
    screenGroup:insert( room5 )

    room5.touch = gotoRoom5

    room7 = display.newImage( "assets/graphics/gotoRoom7.png", 350, 130 )
    screenGroup:insert( room7 )

    room7.touch = gotoRoom7

    print( "\n2: createScene event")

    -- Called immediately after scene has moved onscreen:
    function scene:enterScene( event )

    print( "2: enterScene event" )

    -- remove previous scene's view
    -- storyboard.purgeScene( lastScene )
    print( "last scene was:", lastScene ) -- output: last scene name

    -- Update Lua memory text display
    room3:addEventListener( "touch", room3 )
    room5:addEventListener( "touch", room5 )
    room7:addEventListener( "touch", room7 )


    -- Called when scene is about to move offscreen:
    function scene:exitScene( event )

    print( "2: exitScene event" )

    -- remove touch listener for image
    room3:removeEventListener( "touch", room3 )
    room5:removeEventListener( "touch", room5 )
    room7:removeEventListener( "touch", room7 )


    -- Called prior to the removal of scene's "view" (display group)
    function scene:destroyScene( event )

    print( "((destroying scene 2's view))" )


    -- "createScene" event is dispatched if scene's view does not exist
    scene:addEventListener( "createScene", scene )

    -- "enterScene" event is dispatched whenever scene transition has finished
    scene:addEventListener( "enterScene", scene )

    -- "exitScene" event is dispatched before next scene's transition begins
    scene:addEventListener( "exitScene", scene )

    -- "destroyScene" event is dispatched before view is unloaded, which can be
    -- automatically unloaded in low memory situations, or explicitly via a call to
    -- storyboard.purgeScene() or storyboard.removeScene().
    scene:addEventListener( "destroyScene", scene )


    return scene

  2. Rob Miracle

    I don’t have time right now to dig into your code. Perhaps this would be better asked on the Corona SDK Forums where more eyes will see it.

    But in general terms, any display objects that you DO NOT put into the storyboard “group” group will sit above the storyboard groups as they switch in and out. You could create this in your main.lua, create a group called “controlPanel”, i.e.

    controlPanel = display.newGroup()

    and put your health bar there and then hide it using either controlPanel.alpha = 0 or controlPanel.isVisible = false and then when you get to a scene where you want it to show just set it the other way. It should then stay above your scene’s display group.

  3. Emanouel

    Rob, thanks for the info. ill start asking on the corona SDKforum. how would i update the health bar in other scenes. I’m not to fimilar with how to pass data back and forth between scenes.

  4. SancteIra

    Simple yet brilliant … I’m still a lua programming noob so stuff like this helps a lot! :D

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