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About Majugi

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  1. Based on Rob's description of the book it sounds like it could be "The Bread of Affliction: The Food Supply in the USSR during World War II" by William Moskoff. Alternatively, "Hunger and War: Food Provisioning in the Soviet Union during World War II" looks similar, but I don't think it's the book Rob was reading.
  2. I think the thing that disappoints me the most in discussions of No Man's Sky is that its rare to find one that acknowledges the flaws of the game as it was delivered and the difficulties for the procedural exploration genre while also acknowledging the potential for that genre and the reason people are so drawn to it in the first place. It's clearly bad to dismiss complaints about No Man's Sky on the grounds that developers or the media know better than consumers, but it's equally irritating to me to see people jumping on the chance to tear down an easy target and to validate their biases against a genre of gaming. I can understand why reviewers would feel the need to focus on the game as it was sold to give consumers guidance. However, the conversation about No Man's Sky is about more than No Man's Sky, in the same way that the release or failure of early Kickstarter projects was about more than the successes and flaws of those games themselves. For better or worse, these games are seen as tests for how games should be made in the future. The technology Spore had eight years ago was incredible and incredibly unlike anything else out there, and yet that concept and the technology supporting it was never further developed. Are games that use procedural content generation heavily just a bad idea? Well, given that Spore has "very positive" reviews on Steam now and that it did not benefit from the decades of iteration that established game genres have had, I very much doubt that that the concept itself is fundamentally doomed. Even No Man's Sky, seems to fail mostly on completely mundane details such as bizarrely awkward UI, poor inventory system design, and underwhelming authored content (!) including the game ending. These things are totally worthy of complaint, but to imply that there's no way the game could have been good and people were foolish to believe that it was possible is, I think, simply wrong. I'm roughly ten billion times more interested in experimental games than tightly polished iterations of decades-old mechanics, but I'd still love to see those experiments compete with the amount of content AAA games can churn out. Procedural generation is the only way that's remotely possible, where the size of the team does not correlate with the number of paths a player can take. To me, that's the real story here, and the fact that this particular game is not that great is worth discussing, and even discussing in the context of what that means for the limitations of procedural technology, but I would not be quick to dismiss the hype as unsubstantiated or tech-illiterate. On an unrelated note, I hope we do get a Stranger Things discussion some day. It's nice to have seen a show that everyone is talking about for once.