Bioshock’s development hell, buy Apple or die, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2022#01)

First recap of the year. Just came back from holidays, so it will be a short one. Let’s get to it:


Arcane was a hit, so now we are going to see a bazillion video game tv shows

Basically the header. Arcane, based on League of Legends, was a mega hit on Netflix by the end of last year. This means that the rest of platforms also want to make their own video game shows, and Prime Video seems to be starting with Fallout. I am super skeptical with these kind of adaptations (and even more with the people involved right now), and the story behind Fallout is not so good to start with (actually, it is borderline ridiculous), but the setting and the atmosphere of the video games are so cool that there might still be a little chance we get something cool. It cannot be worse than The Witcher, right? RIGHT?

‘Fallout’: Kilter Films’ TV Series Based On Games Moving Forward At Prime Video With Jonathan Nolan Directing; Duo Set As Showrunners, on deadline

Pay to win

From the creators of charging you for doing their work, while other researchers work for them for free, now we get the novel scam on the block: pay even more for having a faster peer review process. I am specially puzzled by the number of submissions on the test, and what are the kind of conclusions you can get with that ridiculous sample size. Probably the biggest chunk of information they got is the fact that +150 editors working for the editorial would resign if they finally implement that system.

Nature journal ‘playing with fire’ over fee for fast-track review, on timeshighereducation

Fast-track peer review experiment: First findings, on nature


Do you want to be alive? Buy our watch

The trillion dollar company does it again. Fear of missing out (FOMO) now gets to a whole new level: fear of dying if you do not have an Apple Watch. Don’t get me wrong, wearables are incredible tools for monitoring your health, and of course a device like this can save lives in dangerous situations, but this ad seems too macabre for my taste.


The figure police is here

Last year I was contacted from an optics journal to perform a review on a manuscript that was sent for publication. This is not news, as I do a lot of peer review (around 1-2 papers a month, on average). Typically I take a quick look at the manuscript before I decide whether or not to accept the review: I see if it lies inside my area of expertise, if I will be able to make a review in time (sometimes reviews can last for months, and schedules are always tight), etc. While having this quick look I got the feeling that I was very familiar with the topic, so review would be easy to do, and I accepted it. Moreover, one of the authors is a very well known researcher in the field, and I know his papers tend to be quite well written, which always eases the reviewing process. After my first read in detail, the feeling that I had read the results before got bigger and bigger. While this is usually a bad sign, it is quite common to publish pre prints of your works, so I performed a quick internet search in order to see if that was the case. However, I immediately discover that the authors had published a couple papers before on the same topic, and after downloading them, I realised in a matter of minutes why the results felt so familiar: multiple figures with the experimental results of the paper I had to review were duplicates of figures in those older papers. After an in-depth reading, it was quite clear that they were trying to publish the same results two times in different journals. Of course, I informed the editor of the journal and wrote a letter to the authors, which in the end resulted in the rejection of the submission. Usually that’s the end of the story, but a couple months later I received another mail from a different journal (from a different editorial group), with the same manuscript (zero changes were made, including the same figures). I rejected the publication again (stating that it was the second time I had received the manuscript), and never got to see the manuscript again. I forgot about it, only to see it published about half a year later in a third journal (from a third editorial group). You know what they say: three times the charm. In the last submission they managed to get a reviewer which was not familiar enough with the topic, so no one noticed the fraud, and the paper got published.

These kind of stories happen more than what you might think, and some journals have started to use machine learning tools to try to fight back. Using anti plagiarism software is not something new, but these new approaches might be so sophisticated that even if you try to add noise or edit your figures (adding rotations or small modifications) it could be possible to discover the stratagem before publication. Happy to start the year sharing some good uses of Artificial Intelligence.

Journals adopt AI to spot duplicated images in manuscripts, on nature

Ken Levine being Ken Levine

Last year I read a couple books by Jason Schreier on video game development and how the industry works. In one of those, there was a chapter talking about the development of Bioshock: Infinite, which gave a lot of insight on how the studio director, Ken Levine, managed development. Now we see a new piece on what’s the status of his next video game (if it manages to see the light someday). It really makes you think about how much money big companies are willing to bet in order to have a small chance of releasing one of those gems that change the way people perceive the medium (and that sell tens of millions of copies worldwide).

The Next Video Game From BioShock’s Creator Is in Development Hell, on bloomberg

Hold it

From the industry that tried to shove 3D down your throat (with ridiculous results), now comes the stupid trend to pay $$$ for showing ugly .jpeg files to your friends. At least they will not be able to copy/paste them from your screen, which I guess is a big advance in the field? 2022 starts as 2021 ended, with crazy liberal bullshit going mainstream faster and faster…

Samsung promises ‘groundbreaking’ new TV feature: NFT support, on the verge

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Featured image from Minority Report

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