Frequently Asked Questions


What is Moai?

Moai is a mobile game development platform.  It’s driven by the Lua scripting language, both on mobile devices and in the cloud.  The Moai SDK can handle graphics, animation, input, physics, collisions, and more. Moai Cloud hosts your game logic, databases and additional game content, plus key services you need to build and administer great games. 

Where does the name “Moai” come from? How do I pronounce it?

The Moai are monolithic human figures carved from rock on the Polynesian island of Easter Island. We pronounce it Moe-Eye.

Who is Moai designed for?

Moai is designed for experienced game developers who wish to use Lua for mobile and cloud development. The use of Lua across multiple development platforms means you can concentrate on developing great games rather than constantly switching between multiple languages.

Who is Moai not designed for?

As a minimalist game client framework, Moai SDK is not ideal for people just getting started in game development. If you are not already familiar with writing code in Xcode, Eclipse or Visual Studio, and don't have a tool chain in mind for production, then Moai is probably not for you at this point.

Who uses Moai?

The first iPhone game based on the Moai SDK was released in the App Store in March 2010. Since Moai went beta in 2011, several studios have shipped top 20 mobile games using Moai. To follow the development of Zipline’s own games with Moai, see our development diary.

Who is Zipline Games?

Zipline Games is a Seattle based company that is the creator of the Moai Platform. In addition to creating Moai, Zipline is an independent mobile games studio. Moai was created based on years of experience with existing game development platforms.

Where can I find the Moai roadmap?

Check the Moai developer forums for roadmap info.

Where can I create an account and start using Moai?

You can sign up here.

Do I need an account to use Moai SDK?

You can access the source directly on Github, but we encourage developers interested in using Moai to create a Moai account, so they can gain a free Sandbox account for Moai Cloud services, connect to key game services for analytics, monetization and crash reporting, and receive the Moai Platform newsletter (which is sent out every 4-6 weeks).



What mobile platforms does Moai SDK run on?

The current release of Moai SDK is designed for mobile games on iOS and Android. Games built with Moai can also run natively on Chrome browsers, Windows, Macintosh and Linux.

What are the recommended environments for developing with Moai SDK?


Windows XP or later
1 Ghz processor
2 gigs RAM


Mac OS X 10.6 (required for iPhone SDK)
1 Ghz Intel processor
2 gigs RAM

Development environments supported by Moai include Xcode, Eclipse, Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2010.

How does Moai SDK performance differ from native Objective C and C++ games?

Moai SDK produces native applications on iOS and Android. The Lua engine and libraries are compiled from C++ and are faster than Objective C code. The Lua script is run as interpreted byte code, but since very few Lua instructions are processed among all the input handling, rendering, animation, collision detection, and physics math running natively, overall app performance is wicked fast.

What is a Moai Cloud service?

A Moai Cloud service is a cloud-hosted Lua script and a dedicated database used to provide web services for your game.

What are Moai Direct services?

Moai Direct Services are commonly used back-end services ready to be used in mobile games.  Under the covers, these services are written the same way you'd write your own Custom Cloud Logic with Moai, but the code and web page administration UI is already implemented. Developers can simply instantiate a new client key for their mobile games to use any Moai Direct Service and go.

Can I store images and other binary resources on Moai Cloud?

Yes.  All file resources are managed via the mongodb GridFS system.  Any files uploaded in your service’s ZIP file will automatically be stored in the mongodb GridFS.  Access to these files can be accomplished via the luamongo driver.  For more information, check out the forums.

Can I use Moai SDK without Moai Cloud and vice-versa?

Yes, you can.



How much does Moai SDK cost?

Moai SDK is free software under an open source license. We offer a commercial license for studios who prefer one.

Can I buy premium support for Moai SDK?

Yes. Contact Zipline for commercial Moai support offerings.

How much does Moai Cloud cost?

Moai Cloud pricing is available on the pricing page. It's free to get started.

Licensing & Legal

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for licensing information in your jurisdiction.

What license does Moai SDK use?

Moai SDK uses the Common Public Attribution License Version 1.0 (CPAL). CPAL is an Open Source Initiative approved license based on the Mozilla Public License, with the added requirement that you attribute Moai in the credits of your program.

Where can I find the terms of use for Moai Cloud?

Moai Cloud is made available under the terms of our Services Agreement.

How do I fulfill the Moai SDK attribution requirement?

You can fulfill the attribution requirement three different ways:

(1) You can add the following four items to your credits screen or a 2 second introductory screen in your game:

Moai Logo On White 700px

Made with Moai
Copyright (c) 2010-2012 Zipline Games, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

(2) You can use any of the ready-made GetMoai splash screens which incorporate the four above elements.

(3) Alternatively, you can make a slick Made with Moai splash screen or animation that fits in seamlessly with the art and style of your game, but you must then contact us for approval.

Where can I get the source code to Moai SDK if I want to build it myself?

Moai SDK binaries and source are available by signing up here. We also make source code available in our Github repository.

Does my game code become open source if I use Moai SDK?

No. Section 3.7 of the CPAL license defines your game code combined with Moai SDK as a Larger Work, which can be licensed under any terms you choose.

What license should I use for a game I build with Moai SDK?

Your game can be licensed under any license you choose. Moai SDK remains under the CPAL.

Is the Moai SDK CPAL license compatible with the terms of the Apple iTunes Store and iOS SDK?

In our understanding, yes.

Do I have to provide source code to Moai SDK along with my game?

No. By providing the attribution link to specified above, you are fulfilling the requirements of the CPAL license for Moai SDK.

If I want to contribute code to Moai SDK, how do I do it?

We welcome code contributions to Moai SDK. Review the Contributors page to get started.