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I'm implementing a basic skill and attribute system, though I'm having second thoughts about how I should go about it.

For example, I could use a Dictionary/HashMap which uses SkillType enums to represent keys, and integer values representing the values. But should I do this?

public class Skills
{
    public IDictionary<StatType, Int> skills; //StatType is enum, being the key; the int //is the value.

}

vs.

public class Skills
{
    public int LongBlade, Armor, Marksman; //...etc
}

I'd like to know the benefits of type safety here, as opposed to just using basic integers. Any recommendations?

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I'd prefer interface Skill { /* ... */ int toInt(); }; public class Skills : IList { private ArrayList<Skill> skills; /* ... */ };, actually ... –  Martin Sojka Aug 11 '11 at 7:37

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

If there is eventually going to be:

  • a large variety of skill types across your game,
  • or ability-granting items,
  • or ability-granting buffs,
  • or a large ability tree,

then I start to prefer the flexibility of string or integer keys in a dictionary instead of individual instance fields or even a dictionary with an enum key.

My reasoning-- Because you may soon realize...

Boy, it'd be nice if I could tweak my mathcraft and select unit abilities in (my favorite text editor | Excel | a custom tool ).

...at which point a dictionary with string or integer keys become a more natural fit than having to maintain enum values or a long list of instance fields yourself. However, said tool could always be written to generate C# code too, so you may be able to find a happy hybrid.

If your game complexity is going to be fairly simple and your variety of skills small, then managing instance fields by hand (instead of dictionary & enum) seems more convenient and avoids a level of indirection, both at run-time and "keystroke"-time.

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What do you mean by unit abilities and mathcraft though? I'm not quite following, at least in that regard. I would like to use an enum, if that's practical though. –  blissfreak Aug 11 '11 at 5:11
    
I partially agree with you, string are great to higher levels (eg the scripting API) but to move strings around is not a good idea (memory and moving time limit the maximum amount of ops you can do per frame). Be hybrid may be an option: named entities with integer identifiers. The names has to be stored once (in a singleton map perhaps) and entities identifies themselves using integers. Doing so you can put strings in your interfaces if needed and work as if they were enums. –  FxIII Aug 11 '11 at 7:23
    
@fxiii I agree, and is why I mentioned "string or integer". I didn't go into great detail though, so thank you for raising some why and how with respect to using integers. –  DuckMaestro Aug 24 '11 at 0:10

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