Abstract Algebra and my JavaScript Library “Theory”

I’ve recently revisited abstract algebra, my favorite branch of mathematics. A few years ago I wrote a JavaScript library, “Theory”, which had a handful of math functions including analysis of sets and operations to see if they’re a group, Abelian group, etc.

I’m going to rebrand it with a more unique name, write more group theory functions, and hopefully port it to Java or Python at some point. For now, expanding the JavaScript library is top priority, along with choosing an online source control platform.

“Brave Dungeon” for 3DS

This cheap $5 hack and slash “RPG” provides plenty of fun if you just want to battle monsters and level up while advancing further through five different dungeons. Each floor of each dungeon has a boss to fight. The aesthetics are simple but pleasant, and the controls are very basic since it consists of turn-based battles only. There’s not much beyond that… while you can swap party members there’s really no reason to. There are some cool items that you collect while adventuring, and that’s the main upgrade path for the game. Worth $5 for sure!

Learning Hiragana Online

Duolingo now has Japanese learning for free… I’ve started learning Hiragana on it and it’s fascinating. I debated if I wanted to learn Chinese or Japanese, but I’m quite fascinated by Japanese culture, from anime, to matcha, to sushi, Zen Buddhism (which is Chinese as well I guess) and the countless JRPG games like Final Fantasy – so this choice was a fairly easy one. Somehow I’m starting to just grasp the different characters… interesting that it feels automatic by going through the lessons.

Best guitar picks I’ve tried

For many years I used the yellow and green Dunlop Tortex picks, and especially gravitated towards the slightly thinner yellow version.
Recently I tried the Graphtech TUSQ .68mm. It’s thin enough to bend just a little bit when you pick making fast passages easier and less fatiguing. It’s also substantial enough to not feel flimsy or make an overly percussive overtone like really thin picks do.
Overall highly recommended especially for fast alternate picking.

Alchemic Dungeons – a New Awesome 3DS Digital Game

The 8-bit/pixelated graphics of “Alchemic Dungeons” definitely remind me of old DOS or NES games – but the colors seem more vibrant and the graphics more sophisticated.

You choose one of four classes (Fighter, Hunter, Dwarf, or Witch – I think the Hunter is the best class) and go on your way adventuring in a hack and slash sort of style. There are about a hundred items you can craft with materials you collect on your adventures.

I finished the first real stage (not counting the short tutorial), the “Phantom Forest”, after trying again and again – but I definitely learned the basic strategy of the gameplay, and I think later stages will be easier if strategy is applied.

The only real issue with this game is the music gets a bit repetitive… but other than that I highly recommend it!

UPDATE: I’ve since beaten the second stage, which was even more difficult. And an important note: this is a turn-based hack and slash, so you only get to do one thing, then the enemies move/attack, etc.

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim… forever!

I used to play Skyrim on a gaming laptop – fun, but recently I bought Skyrim: Special Edition for PS4, and it looks incredible compared to the laptop version (though not as good as some PS4 games). One of the expansions has started, in which you hunt down vampires… but there are countless other general quests to take on. Overall, really fun game with good graphics and lots of stuff to find and figure out; few games have captivated me like Skyrim, and I highly recommend it.

Game Review – “Assassin’s Creed II” for Xbox 360

Game Title: Assassin’s Creed II
Game System: Xbox 360

Rating
Graphics: 9 / 10
Gameplay: 9 / 10
Replay Value: 6 / 10
Difficulty: Average. Short challenging moments in between longer easier adventures.

Having only begun the first Assassin’s Creed after finishing the second, I can’t really do much of a comparison between the two. However, I think the sequel stands on its own as a genuinely fun, captivating game of mild difficulty – it seems easier than the first one.

Most of the gameplay revolves around avoiding the guards, parkour around the rooftops and eliminating certain targets, and it’s the kills which are the main anchors of the storyline (perhaps unsurprising given the game title). While there are open-world elements in that you can explore the environments (read: cities) that you visit, there is a clear path of how to move the story forwards. Your “next step” is generally made clear by blinking icons in the mini-map and full map, and between the maps and the compass it’s easy to find your next activity.

As the game progresses certain “meta-tasks” arise, that is, activities that span across multiple cities and parts of the game. The two most prominent examples of this are codex pages that you have to have deciphered, and certain locations that hold secret relics (which are hard to explain without revealing certain sub-plots).

The combat is fluid and fun, but due to the abundance of “medicine” that heals a significant part of your health, fighting is rarely much of a challenge, even when it’s many against one. As you progress, you get to buy better armor, which gives you more health, and better weapons that increase your attack speed and damage.

While the game is so easy that at times it almost feels like watching a movie rather than playing a game, the story and gameplay is continuously entertaining and I highly recommend it.