It is possible to save a variable’s reference inside another variable in c#?

I am developing a little console game where you go through a dungeon. I’m trying to make a potion system for it, the idea is that when you use a potion, it changes a specific stat of the player.

The stats of the player are stored in a static class called Stats. I want to create different potions from the same class, and change the stat the potion acts on using its constructor method. The way I want this to work is that, when a new potion instance is created, I pass to the constructor a reference to the stat variable, and the constructor will store that reference in a variable, to use it when the potion is used.

I tried using delegates with getters and setters, but it didn’t work because they only work with functions. I can solve this problem making a potion id system, or learning to proper use pointers, but I prefer to use only safe code.

My question is: There is a way in c# to store a reference to a variable in another variable?

The Stats class:

static class Stats{
    public static int health = 10,
                      strenght = 5,
                      defense = 20;
}

The potion class:

class Potion {
    int statRef; //This is the "reference holder" variable I was asking about.
    int magnitude;
        public Potion(ref int stat, int _magnitude)
        {
             magnitude = _magnitude;
             statRef = stat; //Here I want to save the reference to the stat to the "reference holder"
        }

        public void UsePotion()
        {
            statRef += magnitude; //Here I want to change the referenced variable's value.
        }

}

The main program:

class Program{
    static class Main(string[] args)
    {
       Potion lifePotion = new Potion(Stats.life, 5);
       Potion strenghtPotion = new Potion(Stats.strenght, 5);
       Potion defensePotion = new Potion(Stats.defense, 10);
      
       lifePotion.UsePotion();
       strenghtPotion.UsePotion();
       defensePotion.UsePotion();

      Console.WriteLine(Stats.health);
      Console.WriteLine(Stats.strenght);
      Console.WriteLine(Stats.defense);

    }
}

Answer

C# is an object-oriented programming language. That means it is designed to use “objects”, or in-memory instances of designs or classes that are responsible for maintaining their own state. Now you don’t have to do this, but the more you stray from this design the less the language supports you, and the more work you have to do yourself.

Your design is not object-oriented. There probably isn’t a “stats” that wanders around in your game, statting things. It probably isn’t static either. Static classes are for universal constants that can’t change. For example, Math.Pi is static; it can’t change and my Math.Pi is your Math.Pi.

Instead of static Stats wandering around, your game probably has characters or Mooks. So make a class for them:

public class Mook
{
    public string Name { get; }
    public int Strength { get; private set; }

    public Mook(string name, int strength)
    {
        Name = string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(name) ? throw new ArgumentNullException(nameof(name)) : name;
        Strength = strength;
    }
}

Now you can create instances of Mooks:

var player = new Mook("Link", 10);
var monster = new Mook("Orc", 11);

Mooks can do things, like attack or drink potions. Potions can do things, like modifying your strength. Each class is responsible only for its own internal state; you don’t have potions changing Mooks, only the Mook themselves can do that. Classes do things that change themselves through methods. If you want a Mook to drink a potion you have to create a method inside your Mook class to do that:

    public void Drink(Potion potion)
    {
        switch (potion.Sipped())
        {
            case PotionEffect.ModifyStrength:
                Strength += potion.Modifier;
                break;
        }
    }

Potions don’t decide what happens outside themselves, only the class using the potion does. To track the possible effects of a potion, create an enum:

public enum PotionEffect
{
    Nothing,
    ModifyStrength
}

Potions are other objects, so you need to create another class. Remember, each class is responsible for maintaining its own state:

public class Potion
{
    public PotionEffect Effect { get; }
    public int Modifier { get; }
    public int Doses { get; private set; }

    public Potion(PotionEffect defaultEffect, int modifier, int doses)
    {
        Effect = defaultEffect;
        Modifier = modifier;
        Doses = doses;
    }

    public PotionEffect Sipped()
    {
        if (Doses <= 0)
            return PotionEffect.Nothing;

        Doses--;
        return Effect;
    }
}

Now you can create potions:

var strengthPotion = new Potion(PotionEffect.ModifyStrength, +1, 10);

And have mooks drink them:

player.Drink(strengthPotion);
monster.Drink(strengthPotion);

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