Ariane gets a makeover

One of the changes I made to the 7.1 version was to replace the hostess at the strip club with a new model, because the old hostess just can’t cut it anymore.  Now after working with a bunch of new models and creating the sequel, it is becoming more and more obvious that Ariane herself needs to be updated.

I have been using Victoria 3 base for Ariane for the past 7 years, and before that Victoria 2.  Yes I know I am late to the party, but Victoria 4 is all kinds of superior to Victoria 3 model.  So if Ariane is going to have a future as a virtual character, it is time to update her for the next decade.  Its a hard choice I am reluctant to make because everyone is so familiar with her “classic” look, and change is a pain.  This is especially true because I have already created 44 pictures for the sequel using the old model.

So I decided to update the looks of Ariane, while keeping her close to the original as possible.  I went looking for a skin texture and saw one on sale at DAZ ironically called Ariana.  I lightened the skin a touch, and added the usual simple makeup (eye liner, red lipstick) and added a beauty mark that has existed on every version of Ariane just to the right of her nose.

Then came the extremely hard part of playing with the 300 sliders to get the face shape as close as possible.  Once I got the close as possible look down, I was a little unsatisfied because she is not the classic beauty I was hoping for.  I made an attempt to abandon close as possible and go with a classic beauty, but oddly I preferred the close as possible look, because the face has “character”.  It is funny how taking a second look changes perspective sometimes.

Two things concern me, one is that this may seem like a radical change to some of you.  The other is that I may be walking on the jagged edge of the Uncanny Valley with this change.  Let me know what you think.

* * *

Update:  So far the reaction is mixed, which is what I expected. Believe me, I am of two minds on this myself.  Just to point this out, here are a couple of renders I did so far.  You can compare these to the “classic” Ariane pictures that I posted earlier.

Here is the first one, and comparing the “classic” and the “new”, I do not see a lot of improvement. In fact I’ll admit the “classic” Ariane looks better.  Maybe it is the lighting I have in this picture makes her look kind of odd.

Then I redo the second picture and that “wow” factor shows up.  The “new” Ariane picture is definitely better.  The difference between these two test images is rather dramatic, and if I go forward with the new model, I will have to pay closer attention to lighting and shadow, which means a lot of extra work.  “Classic” Ariane looks the same in all lighting conditions, so doing a thousand pictures with her was easy.

There are a couple of other factors I am also considering.  One is that later in the story there is a conversation about the last date, this conversation varies depending on the date that you import to the sequel.  I illustrate the conversation with flashbacks to scenes from the first date, and having a dramatic difference between the current and flashback pics is likely to be off putting.  A second consideration I won’t  go into details because it is a spoiler, but in the interplay between Ariane and the new characters, the “classic” Ariane looks inferior and that is what got me thinking about this change in the first place.

Decisions, decisions…

Shall we try this again?

Making another attempt, adjusting eyes, nose, mouth and cheeks.  The parts that still don’t match up simply are not possible even on V4.  And, just to put the finishing touch on, I am using classic Ariane’s eyeballs.  If eyes are the windows of the soul, then that is the biggest change of all.

39 thoughts on “Ariane gets a makeover

  1. pH Cockatrice August 18, 2011 / 4:24 am

    The new face has character, but it feels like a recast. I’m not sure that’s such a hot idea with your star. After we get used to the new one, going back and playing the old game–the first date, after all–will be a bit strange.

  2. Josh August 18, 2011 / 4:28 am

    This actually saddens me. What made the Ariane date game so much fun to play over and over again (besides the many fun story lines), was that she was just so damn gorgeous to look at. Not to say the new version isn’t pretty, but she’s certainly not the Ariane we’ve come to know and love. As a big fan of your work, I’d honestly consider sticking with the original Ariane.

    On another note, the pictures and story tidbits you’ve shared so far look well-executed and meticulously planned. With your attention to detail and creativity, I can already tell this is going to be a phenomenal date simulation. Keep up the fantastic work!

  3. pH Cockatrice August 18, 2011 / 4:34 am

    Leaving aside the harsher lighting:

    You could make the tip of the nose a wee bit smaller and raise the skin on the sides of the bridge of the nose in those spots in the middle, so there’s less of a smooth drop to sudden bulb in the new face. I like a woman with a schnozz, but that’s a major difference in my eyes.

    The lower eyelids have a more complex curve, the eyelashes are much more prominent–I’d lighten the lashes & restore the simple curve.

    Then she’d almost match, & it would be a more subtle recast. You got the mouth the same, after all.

    Then again, do you think this is how she should have looked all along?

  4. pH Cockatrice August 18, 2011 / 5:00 am

    I’m sorry, I’m nitpicking something you’re already picked to death yourself.

  5. Danny August 18, 2011 / 7:36 am

    I have to agree with Josh, the new look just isn’t Ariane. She looks fine as a new character, but please don’t make this the new Ariane!!!

    I love playing the Dating Sim, and Ariane’s beautiful face is what really keeps me around, I like the bits you have shown of the new game, with her different hair and new clothes, that looks amazing, but its her face, that makes me know it is still the top computer game woman I have come to know and love, then new face looks so different, its too much like a movie sequal getting a new actress, and its a sequal, that I sadly wouldn’t want to be apart of.

  6. Andy August 18, 2011 / 8:22 am

    At first I was a bit shocked and didn’t like the new model, but the more I looked and studied them both the more i prefer the new one.

  7. Felix Atagong August 18, 2011 / 9:32 am

    At first my reaction was one of… Aaargh! And before I had read Danny’s reaction I thought about ‘a sequel with a different actress’ as well, like Saavik in the Star Trek movies, first Kirstie Alley, then Robin Curtis.
    It’s the shock of seeing both of them, one next to the other.
    Then I had a closer look at Ariane #2 – alone – and yeah, I can live with that. She’s a bit more mature (also a common effect with sequels where actors that are a decade older play a role that happens a few weeks after the first movie). We’ve grown older as well, didn’t the classic Ariane play around for a decade.
    Time for a change, I would say.

    • Sacha August 18, 2011 / 10:54 am

      I tend to agree with Felix, we are getting older and change is inevitable and we must deal with it. I saw it on a vending machine that wasn´t accepting change so it must be true…

  8. Marc August 18, 2011 / 11:06 am

    While I agree with Felix Atagong on the mature part, the eyes of the new Ariane really creep me out. I can’t tell what makes the difference, but the new ones are really deep in the uncanny valley.

    • Marc August 19, 2011 / 10:54 am

      Seeing the model in combination with one of the rooms the game will play in, I think this is going to work rather well. Especially with the old eyes🙂

  9. Jeffster August 18, 2011 / 12:59 pm

    In the first picture it looks like she has a faint moustache.

  10. Norse Graphics August 18, 2011 / 1:19 pm

    She looks like she has matured a little bit. The differences I spot are; old Ariane has softer curved jaw, nose is a little broader with a tip, eyes slightly smaller than the new look and the lower eyelid on the new character doesn’t transfer as ‘smooth-curved’ as the old one (easier to see on the part closer to the nose).

    But it isn’t a bad character, and I am more partial to the new as she doesn’t have the ‘typical’ look like V3. And easy on the shininess (as she’ll look like she’s been in the shower recently).

    I looked at the forums at DAZ3D to see if there was an easy way to transfer morphpoints from V4 to V4, but they have different meshes, so it was a deadend to me. Maybe there are some with better luck.

  11. yepa, its me! August 18, 2011 / 1:59 pm

    The problem to me is not the fact that you updated it… is the fact that new Ariane and old one is not recognizable. You changed the hair, the hair colour, the face, the dress… I think it is better to do it in an slower way. Why don’t add this in the game? You begin the game with the new Ariane face with the old hair, and in the middle of the game, or in the beginning, she goes to the hairdresser. It will make it easier to us to recognice the new character, as Ariane, and with some luck, the imagenes that you have already done will not be a waste of work.

  12. Ryan August 18, 2011 / 3:55 pm

    Honestly I think the new version is borderline ugly. Overall her facial features are harsher, which is a sharp step away from Arianne’s notably soft facial features. Her nasal folds are more distinct and angled lower; this makes her look like she curls her lip in distaste often, rather than the previous lines which are immediately evocative of a smile. Her cheekbones are further apart and more pronounced; I think they’re also slightly lower which dramatically changes the overall shape of the face. Overall the new model looks like Ariane has aged ten years, or even passable as a different person!

    The other two major factors are the mouth and the eyes. The new model doesn’t look like smiling comes naturally to her. The eyes only add to that problem. They’re more realistic, but expression-wise they’re colder and more blank. The old model has very warm, open eyes that I personally find very beautiful.

    So, to recap, soften up the features so she looks a bit younger, and work on her SMILE =)

    • arianeb August 19, 2011 / 1:06 am

      Thanks for the constructive comment (from everybody actually). Maybe a few more passes and tinkers are necessary before I lock down the character.

      • Ryan August 19, 2011 / 6:47 am

        Wow! Big improvement! The only change I’d make is to fill the cheeks out a bit, but that may have been one of the things you can’t change.

  13. Frank August 18, 2011 / 4:47 pm

    Honestly… The first Ariane model was a 10. Very beautiful. The new model looks like she was aged 10 years and had a bad nose job while she drank coffee turning her teeth slightly brown that whole time. Still the new model is attractive, but not as attractive as the old one. Making her about an 8.

  14. Frank August 18, 2011 / 4:54 pm

    If you could some how fix that nose, and whiten the teeth she would be a way hotter.

  15. M August 18, 2011 / 7:51 pm

    The new model looks good, but it looks like a completely different character.

  16. AR August 19, 2011 / 12:06 am

    It may be just me but I think you’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist: people wouldn’t be waiting for your game if they thought it looked too dated.

    I’m looking at the picture on top of the page and it’s hard to pretend I’m looking at the same person. I think the question you really should ask yourself is this: is it better to make a sequel with a dated model or should you just make a game with a completely new character? I would personnally prefer either options to a sequel with an Ariane I don’t recognize.

  17. Rach August 19, 2011 / 6:17 am

    The new one is gorgeous

  18. Rick August 19, 2011 / 3:36 pm

    As Josh and others have said, the new and improved Ariane isn’t the one we all fell in love with.

  19. Norse Graphics August 19, 2011 / 4:55 pm

    One thing I noticed was that the old Ariane doesn’t have as long eyelashes as the new one, and it’s an improvement for the new version. And you fixed the eyeshape (?) and use the same eye-textures made a world of difference. The ‘problems’ are slight adjustment of the nose (not too much) and fleshing/softening out the cheeks, as was mentioned by other posters. The old Ariane has a very soft face, and the transition to the new makes it look like a different character altogether. In real life you can achieve this effect too. All in all I think you’ve done some great work there as I’ve tried my hand in morphing faces myself by dialing, and it isn’t easy…

  20. Danny August 19, 2011 / 5:27 pm

    The updates look much better, but instead of looking like a new Ariane, she now looks like her mother, or an older sister. I can agree that she looks good, and she does look like Ariane, but if that is as close as you can get her, then I would stick with the original as she has been what kept people coming back for more, as AR had said, she would be fine if you wanted to make the sequal with a new girl, different name and so on.

  21. arianeb August 21, 2011 / 7:14 am

    After tinkering around all day, I found fixes for the glossy skin and dark teeth, and she is looking a lot better. The sequel also includes Rebecca, but I have managed to incorporate the new Augmented Occulation lighting model using the Victoria 3 base skin. In other words, Rebecca can (mostly) keep up with the technology with only minor modifications to her lighting model (I also gave her better hair).

    So why can I keep Rebecca mostly the same and not Ariane? It is because the texture used to create Rebecca is third generation, while the texture for Ariane is actually second generation. I do not have bump maps or shine maps for the Victoria 2 skin I used to create Ariane. I thought about porting a V4 skin down to V3 thus having the same Ariane model, but that would be like making repairs to a car you should just replace.

    Yeah I know, they don’t look exactly alike, but the new Ariane can go for another 10 years, and has access to a better wardrobe.

    • Sasha August 21, 2011 / 8:15 am

      And in 10 years i suspect everyone will make the same complaints when it comes time to upgrade her again too. You have to let go of the old and embrace change at some point. That vending machine was well and truly wise.

  22. Danny August 22, 2011 / 1:53 pm

    Maybe if her hair wasn’t so dark, and more light brown like Ariane’s, she wouldn’t look so different to me

  23. Dude August 22, 2011 / 3:53 pm

    i think that new\improved araine is a great idea, but please try to make it as close as possible to the original ariane.
    and please for the new version add finally an “try again” button after you lose, and try to make the game bug free😉
    thanks and keep up the great work! date ariane is awesome! ;D

  24. AR August 22, 2011 / 11:37 pm

    Just to be clear, I completely understand your reasoning and I can see the advantages of changing technology. What I don’t understand is why you’re calling her Ariane instead of embracing change completely and creating a new character. The first game had no sound and no long dialogs so a lot of her personality came through the art. If she doesn’t look the same (or at least reasonnably similar), there won’t be any connection between both characters.

    I enjoyed playing the first one and I’m curious about the next but calling it a sequel makes it less appealing somehow.

    • Danny August 22, 2011 / 11:59 pm

      Perfectly said, I totally agree.

  25. Alexander August 23, 2011 / 1:15 pm

    IMHO the new arianeb is hot, hot, hot. Go for it. Change always inspires people to be reluctant.

  26. Steve August 23, 2011 / 9:50 pm

    There are a few other differences I didn’t see mentioned. The new model’s hairline is higher, and the eyebrows are a different shape. Of course, the difference in the shape of the eyes, the eyelashes and the slight difference in the nose have been mentioned. I also notice a slight difference in the upper lip. The new model seems to have it curve a little higher. Also, the cheeks on the new model seem hollower, as though she’s lost weight.

    The new hair colour and style doesn’t bother me, women are entitled to change their hair.

    Now, after all that criticism, let me say I think your work is amazing. When all we can do is pick nits, you’ve done very well indeed.

  27. Danny August 25, 2011 / 8:28 am

    In truth, I really can’t wait to play, no matter how Ariane looks. I love the original game, you did a great job on developing it and the title character, so all in all, if the game plays as well as the first, with both the feel of the game, and the great stories, I’ll be sold.

  28. RoRi August 26, 2011 / 8:59 am

    As ryan allready said: fill out the cheeks a bit could make a hughe difference. The old Arianeb has a rounder softer face while the new one has a really characteristic one where the cheekbones shine through

  29. Dichos y hechosmo August 26, 2011 / 10:14 am

    Firstly, it’s great to hera tha the new game is coming closer!

    Regarding the “new” Arienne, the problem for me is that, while it is true that she looks more detailed and realistic, she does not resemble to the original girl: is like another person (and, in my modest opinion, less attractive).

    So, you can try to, at least, change her hair colour from black to brown, and, if possible, get her nose thinner.

    The new model also has a spot near the mouth that was not there on the original Arianne’s face. So, in order to maintian the original look, it should be removed.

    (Sorry for my bad English!)

  30. Firefox August 26, 2011 / 7:13 pm

    For me it seems to be the same as to many of your readers: The new model isn’t ugly and appears to be more natural, but the change is just to much (for me) – it’s not an improved person, it’s a different one. The two models surely look related but more like sisters then different pictures of the same character…

  31. kasis August 29, 2011 / 6:39 am

    New Ariane is not as pretty as the first one, and looks much older. If original seems to me around 25, then new one is 35+. For different game it could be ok, but I dont know if classic dating topics will go with 35 yo woman.

  32. tautha September 4, 2011 / 8:11 pm

    Sorry I’m late to the party, but only started playing last week. First off just want to say what a fantastic piece of work it is! I’m still playing through and trying to resist walkthroughs to get all the scenarios.

    With regard to the ‘new’ Ariane, she looks unervingly like my next door neighbour… not sure how I feel about that! The things that strike me instantly in comparison are;

    The new Ariane is somehow pale and shiny compared to the current one.
    The current Ariane has a much softer look to her features and a more engaging smile.

    As some have suggested, it may be an idea to just go with a character change as well as a new look – although I will miss the current Ariane terribly. There will always be a place in my heart (and hard drive) for her.

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