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ArkScript is a small, fast, functional and scripting language for video games
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Branch: dev
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  • Documentation: Wiki
  • Discord server: invite link, to discuss the specification of the language and receive help
  • Modules

Nota bene: the project is referred as "Ark" and as "ArkScript". The official public name is "ArkScript" since "Ark" is already being used by another language

Key features

ArkScript is

  • small: the compiler, and the virtual machines fit under 5000 lines, but also small in term of keywords (it has only 10)!
  • a scripting language: it's very easy to embed it in your application. The FFI is quite easy to understand, so adding your own functions to the virtual machine is effortless
  • portable: it produces a bytecode which is run by its virtual machine, like Java but without the OutOfMemoryException
  • a functional language: every parameter is passed by value, everything is immutable unless you use mut to define a mutable variable
  • powerful: it can handle object oriented programming in a very elegant way with its closures and explicit captures (see examples/church-encoding)
  • promoting functionalities before performances: expressiveness often brings more productivity, but performances aren't bad at all
  • easy to compile: it takes less than 200ms to compile and check a complex code with a lot of branches and sub-branches of 200 lines.
  • a Lisp-like, but with less parentheses: [...] is expanded to (list ...) and {} to (begin ...). More shorthands will come in the future.
  • extensible: it is very easy to create a C++ module to use in the language


  • it has a REPL
  • it has a growing standard library, composed of ArkScript (under lib/) and C++ (under modules/)
  • it has a lot of unit tests, which are ran before every release to ensure everything work as intended


Fibonacci suite

    (let fibo (fun (n)
        (if (< n 2)
            (+ (fibo (- n 1)) (fibo (- n 2))))))

    (print (fibo 28))  # display 317811

More or less game

    # more or less game
    (print "More or less game!")

    (import "")
    (import "Math/Arithmetic.ark")

    (let number (mod (abs (random)) 10000))
    (mut value 0)
    (mut essais 0)

    (mut continue true)

    (while continue {
        (set value (toNumber (input "Input a numeric value: ")))

        (if (< value number)
            # then
            (print "More!")
            # else
            (if (= value number)
                # then
                { (print "Bingo!") (set continue false) }
                # else
                (print "Less!")))

        (set essais (+ 1 essais))})

    (print "You won in " essais " tries")

More examples are available in the folder examples/.


  • First, fork the repository
  • Then, clone your fork: git clone
  • Create a branch for your feature: git checkout -b feat-my-awesome-idea
  • When you're done, push it to your fork and submit a pull request!

Don't know what to work on? No worries, we have a list of things to do 😉

Our beloved contributors

Who worked on

Contributing to the ArkScript standard library

See Coding guidelines if you want to write ArkScript for the library (see folder lib/).

For performance reasons, some functions might be written in C++, in include/Ark/VM/FFI.hpp and src/VM/FFI/.

Code structure

ArkScript code structure


  • C++17

  • CMake >= 3.12

  • Visual Studio >= 11 (on Windows)

  • On macOS versions prior to 10.15, libc++ lacks filesystem in the standard library.

    • Install a newer compiler using Homebrew: brew install gcc && brew link gcc
    • Pass compiler path to cmake in the build step: -DCMAKE_CXX_COMPILER=/usr/local/bin/g++-9

Libs already included:


# first, clone it
~$ git clone --depth=50 --branch=dev
~/Ark$ cd Ark
~/Ark$ git submodule update --init --recursive
# building Ark
~/Ark$ cmake -H. -Bbuild -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release -DARK_BUILD_EXE=1
~/Ark$ cmake --build build
# installing Ark (might need administrative privileges)
~/Ark$ cmake --install build --config Release
# running
~/Ark$ Ark --help
        ArkScript programming language

        build/Ark -h, --help
        build/Ark --version
        build/Ark --dev-info
        build/Ark ((<file> [-c]) | -r) [-(d|bcr)] [-L <lib_dir>] [-f(function-arity-check|no-function-arity-check)] [-f(allow-invalid-token-after-paren|no-invalid-token-after-paren)]

        -h, --help                  Display this message
        --version                   Display ArkScript version and exit
        --dev-info                  Display development information and exit
        -c, --compile               Compile the given program to bytecode, but do not run
        -r, --repl                  Run the ArkScript REPL
        -d, --debug...              Increase debug level (default: 0)
        -bcr, --bytecode-reader     Launch the bytecode reader
        -L, --lib                   Set the location of the ArkScript standard library

                                    Toggle function arity checks (default: ON)

                                    Authorize invalid token after `(' (default: OFF). When ON, only display a warning

        Mozilla Public License 2.0


Compiled on WSL (Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS 64 bits), 25 independants runs, 5 consecutives runs to have a nice median.

Run on (8 X 1992 MHz CPU s) CPU Caches:

  • L1 Data 32K (x4)
  • L1 Instruction 32K (x4)
  • L2 Unified 262K (x4)
  • L3 Unified 8388K (x1)

The test here is the Ackermann-Peter function with m=3 and n=6:

data ArkScript C++ (g++ 8.3.0) Java (OpenJDK 11.0.6) 64 bits Lua 5.1.5 Python 3.6.9
mean 51.5 ms 0.144 ms 0.211 ms 13.553 ms 9.125 ms
median 51.1 ms 0.142 ms 0.179 ms 13.404 ms 9.375 ms
stddev 0.619 ms 0.003 ms 0.906 ms 0.146 ms 0.865 ms


You can find a snake created in ArkScript in the folder examples/games/snake (run it from there, otherwise it won't find the font and the sprites ; you won't need to install the SFML).


Controls are the arrows (left, right, up and down), the game closes itself when you successfully collect the 3 apples.


This project was inspired by gameprogramingpatterns and ofan lisp.cpp

Copyright and Licence information

Copyright (c) 2019-2020 Alexandre Plateau. All rights reserved.

This ArkScript distribution contains no GNU GPL code, which means it can be used in proprietary projects.

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