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What is the best way to create a rather dynamic upgrade system for a tower defence game? I thought of two possibilities:

  • Create enums for stats and math operation (latter could be just a char as well), and use the following function:

    Upgrade (Stat, Value, Operation);
    

    Like:

    Upgrade (STAT_HEALTH, 2, OP_MULT);
    

    would double health.

  • (Using an entity system with each one having an ID) Every tower, and its possible upgrades, are different entities, so:

    Upgrade(int id);
    

    would upgrade the entity to entity of ID id. This one doesn't look very good for me, as it looks like a waste of memory. This also makes me think of a system using a tree of stats nodes to define their dependencies, but I'm not sure what to do exactly.

Just started learning about JSON so the information needed would be available through it.

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This depends on a few factors:

  • Do you actually need to worry about memory? Unless you're dealing with a top-of-the-line 3D tower defense game, I doubt it's an issue you should be worried about.
  • By "dynamic", you clearly mean that upgrades can change their value. Do you also mean that upgrades can combine to form others (ex: +5 Attack and +3 Explosiveness could be upgraded to +10 Splash)? If they are this dynamic, I would recommend using your second system, an entity system, because you'd have more flexibility. If not, I'd lean towards an enum-based system.
  • Will different upgrade types be similar or drastically different? If you have upgrades varying from "Randomly grants a boost nearby towers!" to +2 Attack, you should probably use an entity system. With enums, you don't have as much room to work with these differences.

When it comes down to it, it's really a matter of simplicity v. flexibility. Which of these you choose should be determined by the scope/complexity of your game.

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