Thread: Accesor Methods in Games

  1. #1
    I am he who is the man! Stan100's Avatar
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    Sep 2002

    Accesor Methods in Games

    Suppose I have a class

    class Cat
    int age;
    Should I make an accesor method for int age? Or in any class. Is plainly calling it faster even the tiniest bit? It is a pain to make
    int age private, then create an accesor method, and a set method, and possbily an addto(int add) method.
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  2. #2
    carry on JaWiB's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
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    If your class turns out to have very little data in it, and you do relatively little with that data, it might be best not to bother with a class at all. You could use a struct, but generally I would only use a struct within a class anyways.

    If you have a lot of data, then you most likely wont need to have simple functions like "addto()"...However, if you have a complex class, even if you do relatively little with a data member, it is best to make it private. You can always name the function age() anyhow.

    For an example, the std::string class must have a member that contains its length, so the accessor function is named length()
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  3. #3
    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    The only difference (in C++) between a class and a struct is that a struct is public by default and a class is private by default.

    However, by convention, structs are usually used for small amounts of data, and classes are usually used for larger objects.

    for example:

    struct POINT
    int x, y, z;
    class WINDOW
    ...a bunch of functions for Windows...

    In your case it would be better to just access the variable directly and not use a function.

    It would save a lot of stack space and call time to just reference the variable directly instead of having a function just return it.

    However, when you make a large class, although it would still be more efficient to reference the variable directly, the convention is to use functions to modify and access it.
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  4. #4
    verbose cat
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    If you are using a class, I'm assuming you're looking at some semblance of Object Oriented Design. If that is the case, you'd want to make an accessor function.

    If you decide now that the cat's age doesn't matter, then you could just set it anywhere with

    Cat felix;
    felix.age = 99;
    However, as you code, if you decide that you need to limit the age of the cat to a range, say 0..25 (an extreeeeemly old cat!), you would have to go back through the code that uses your Cat class and make changes everywhere you used felix.age. If instead, you made age private, you would have to have been setting/retrieving it with

    So when you wanted to limit setting the age to that range, you only change the setAge() function to either throw an exception, make that call to setAge(99) set the cat's age to 25 instead, or just ignore the request (depends on what makes the most sense to you).

    If you are looking for the nth degree of speed, consider this:

    class Cat {
        int age;
        int getAge() { return age; }
        void setAge(int new_age) {
          if ((new_age >= 0) && (new_age <= 25))
            age = new_age;
    }; // Cat class
    The compiler would inline the getAge() and setAge() functions, so you would not lose any speed as functions defined in the class declaration are inlined by default (unless the compiler decides they are too big, too complex or something else that would make inlining it actually slower). What you would gain however would be the ability to modify how that age is set by changing only one function rather than having to search through code to find any place you used felix.age for something.

  5. #5
    Registered User
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    May 2003
    In general, real designs don't tend to be bogged down with get/set pairs, mainly because you tend to do more complicated things with your methods.

    Also, it decreases efficiency, slightly, but it greatly reduces coupling -- you want your classes to be as independent of each other as possible, and accessor methods help achieve this.
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