How to Make Ariane in Daz Studio

dazariane1I have had a few people ask about getting a 3D model for Ariane, so here’s how to do it.

Shopping List:

My folders are organized for Poser so they will not be in the same place as the default locations for these products. Use the search feature if you have to.

In the library, do a search for Victoria 4 and find the “Actor Victoria 4.2”. When you click to load, it will give you a dialog box, put a check on morphs++ to load those as well.

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Next, find MRL Ariana and load “AriBody1 INJ”and in the subfolder PoserDazMATs load “Ari_MAT”, in the sub-subfolder Ari_Lips load “AriLips01”, and under Ari_MakeUp, load “AriMU01”

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Next, find Andromeda and open “!AndromedaHead INJ” then under “PoserDazMats/And_Eyes” load “AndEyes07”  Note: Andromeda also comes with a bunch of custom expressions designed for the Andromeda head, I use these a lot.

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Next, do a search for reby and load “RebyGlam Victoria 4”

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On the right hand adjustment panel (your interface may vary) click where it says Victoria 4.2 and a menu will pop up, select Reby Glam Victoria 4, then on the library window (left side) find the “AprilRebyGlam” directory  and apply “2 M Black” and “1 handles off”

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Now, on the right side, you need to select “RebyGlamVictoria4 : neck” then in the Parameters menu select “custom fits” and raise “hairline” to 50%

That’s it, you are done. I have added other features like moles and realistic anatomy, but the above is close enough.

Rachel, by the way is just DMR Ella, though because this older texture does not have the latest settings, I have been using MRL Eris skin

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Now, on the parameters menu reselect Victoria 4.2, apply a pose then on the render menu, select “render” and soon you have a picture of Ariane.

Rachel and Ariane: An Experiment in Storytelling

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After finishing the Renpy version of Date Ariane back in July 2015, I have been tinkering with the idea of what would happen if Ariane (of Date Ariane fame) and Rachel (of Something’s In The Air fame) were to meet.

I made both games for my own entertainment, and I am glad they have been successful. So I started tinkering with Rachel and Ariane being the third part of the trilogy.  I’ve never tried writing a story like this, and so I’m not sure what I am doing, and kind of making things up as I go along.

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So far it is coming off as “official fanfic”. I struggle with the writing part, but I am really having a lot of fun doing the pictures part, which is why I keep going.

I released part one in October 2015, a piece at a time until the final part was released on Halloween, when the story was set.

It starts with a “meet cute” as all rom-coms do, in this case they show up to a Halloween party dressed the same.  As they get to talking they discover they are the same in a few other ways as well.

After Ariane finds out Rachel is a supermodel, Rachel takes Ariane home and tests her in a few ways. Ariane passes the tests, and they end up getting drunk together.

It ends with Ariane revealing her never before revealed job: game developer. Rachel, being a game addict herself, is intrigued and wants to get together again.

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Rachel Dates Ariane is set about two weeks later, or mid November, though there was over a year before I released it in November 2016.

It almost follows a typical “Date Ariane” date. Rachel comes over, and they play video games (tying back to the end of part 1) then they go out for dinner. This time to a pizza place they both like (Pizza Mia shows up in both games). Then back to Ariane’s and some naked hot tubbing.

Rachel then makes a (intentional?) move that results in the two of them in bed naked together.  Can two mostly heterosexual women find love? or is it doomed to “friendzone”? Is that necessarily a bad thing?

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I just released part 3: Rachel Takes Ariane’s Photo. I tried to make it more game like with choices to eventually turn it into a game, which I actually made, and found it repetitive as most of the choices end up in the same place.

So I just converted it to HTML and posted it all at once. It’s about 23 HTML pages total using simple links to the choices you pick.

It takes place still in November, with still autumn colors (which is part of the plot). The two key scenes for me are the “short cut” and Rachel setting up cameras.

I establish in the games that Ariane is a bit of a dare devil or “Action Girl”, but never get a good opportunity to demonstrate it. The short cut scene is Ariane demonstrating that part of her personality to Rachel, who being a science geek is not all that thrilled with that side of Ariane.

Then when we get to the the actual picture taking, Rachel is the one demonstrating her personality, talking about photography in a geeky way and having it go way over Ariane’s head. The photo session itself is very clinical and very professional, the way a supermodel likes it, and with the exception of one version of the photo shoot, no where near as sexy as the ones Ariane did in Date Ariane.

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Control of what happens to the photos is in the hands of the photographer, or the party that commissioned the photos in the first place. That means Ariane has no control.

The objective here is to add a little bit of conflict. Differences that could get bigger later.

I’m working on a part 4, which basically would be act 3 of a typical 3 act story: Things get worse before they get better. It’s tough to write characters I like struggling with stuff, so I am struggling writing it. I don’t know if it will be linear like parts 1 and 2, or whether there will be multiple versions based on choices like part 3.  Depends on what works best.

Even if you don’t like the writing, I think I did some great pictures here. The pictures are actually bigger than they display on the web page, parts 2 and 3 are 1960×1080. Just right click and view picture to see the full sized images.

The 3D Figure Community: Everybody Hates Daz3D

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As I reported a few months ago, the 3D graphics community consisted of a friendly rivalry between Poser users and DAZ Studio users, which did not really matter that much until the newest DAZ 3D released content dubbed Genesis 3 was incompatible with Poser and could only be used on DAZ Studio software.

In the few months since then much has happened. New versions of both programs, DAZ Studio 4.9 and Poser 11 were released, and then DAZ started something that has made everybody mad: encrypted content.  There is a lot to cover.

Beautiful Fake People

Let’s get to what this is all about, it is creating pictures of beautiful fake people. There is some commercial applications to this, like illustration, animation and game development, but it is also a growing hobby.

The best 3D models come from DAZ 3D and they can generate the most realistic pictures like the one above. Each new figure they have released has been more realistic than the last. You can usually tell Genesis 3 figures from their realistic hands like in the one above.

Except that the picture above is not Genesis 3. It’s not even DAZ 3D. In fact there is not a single figure or prop in the picture from DAZ 3D. It is the Dawn model from Hivewire3D, specifically Elisa character with enhanced realistic hands. It was rendered in Poser 11 Pro.

My point is that you do not need DAZ products and software to create incredible images.

Poser 11 Pro Review

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A Superfly Render (click for full size)

Back in November Smith Micro released Poser 11 and Poser 11 Pro.  It continues to be the best software for this kind of work. Poser 11 adds a physics renderer called Superfly which is comparable to IRay or LUX Renderer but the materials can be built in the materials room like the Firefly renderer. My own experiments have been mixed.  The biggest flaw in Superfly is that the results don’t come anywhere close to the preview, but the same thing can be said about IRay.

Among the other new features not found in DAZ Studio is “Subdivision surface morphing” which allows a better control of the face (or other parts) for the purposes of animation.  There is also a new tool for adaptable figure weighting making it much easier to create new figures, and an easier way to share new morphs.

Poser continues to add tools to support import export to Maya, Blender, and other 3rd party software making it more desirable for professionals.

That’s why it costs $400, but the cost is the reason most hobbyists are going to DAZ Studio instead.

DAZ Studio 4.9

Meanwhile, DAZ Studio has released a new version 4.9 which except for some minor improvements is basically 4.8 with “DAZ Connect“.

What is DAZ Connect? It enables searching for products, purchasing, and installation of DAZ3D content directly in DS, without ever leaving DAZ Studio. What it really is is a DRM system to encrypt future products.

This has the whole community up in arms, both Poser users and DAZ Studio users. DRM will restrict the use of content. Despite the fact that they are no longer compatible, people still move between DAZ Studio and Poser, adapting and creating content for both. DRM destroys that.  This last month DAZ released their first “freebie” for DAZ Studio users that is only available in DAZ Connect. This has become the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot of people.

If DAZ3D continues down this road, it could kill all compatibility between DAZ and other 3rd party software and 3rd party content resources.  Many people have attempted to make this point on the DAZ forums only to have their posts removed.

DAZ3D is currently saying that all their previous content will continue to be available as non-encrypted and they have no plans to make new content connect-only. They have also stated that all encrypted content will be released after 1 year as unencrypted. This has calmed some upset users, but there is a worry that they will change their minds in the future.  Why have it if you are not going to use it?

The problems with DRM in an open community

Meanwhile, Charles Taylor the lead programmer of Poser, let his opinion of DRM be known in an interview with Renderosity.

The problem with DRM is that it is indiscriminate. It doesn’t know a legitimate user from a pirate. All too frequently legitimate users are prevented from using the product they have a valid license to use. Also, every DRM system is eventually hacked, so the only piracy it truly prevents is casual piracy.

Yes, it prevents some piracy. Would these people have purchased the content any way? We may never know that answer.

Ultimately DRM is no more effective than a padlock. It will keep the honest people honest. Anyone with a big enough hammer will steal it any way. The question that remains is, “Do you make your customers deal with the padlock every time they want to use the content they paid for just to keep the honest ones honest?”

At this time, we at Poser have no intent to introduce DRM to content. We think our customers are already honest.

DRM has its place. I don’t think 3D content is one of those places. Especially given the myriad of available export options in most 3D programs. With a click of the mouse, Poser content can be exported to something like FBX. DRM is so easily broken, it’s going to prevent very little piracy. It’s not worth the trouble for the company, the vendors or the customers.

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NVIATWAS

Here is my own feeling on DRM in the 3D art community. I have been doing Poser since Poser 2 in the late 90’s. It takes a while to learn this hobby and get good at it. It can also be an expensive hobby.

Irregardless of what tools you use, there is a learning curve in this hobby that requires some practice. “Free” DAZ Studio has brought a lot of new people into this hobby and that is a good thing. New people are just getting their feet wet and are not interested in spending lots of money.

NVIATWAS is what we sometimes call new amateurs, it’s an anagram of “Naked Vicky In A Temple With A Sword” which is the biggest cliché in the field. But it is a phase everyone goes through until they get good.

It is at this amateur level where you desire as much free content as possible whether it is DRM protected freebies or stolen “warez” which is what DRM is designed to protect, you want it all.

I went through my NVIATWAS phase, too. The above pic is not mine, its actually good, my own are not. I’ve never actually downloaded/used stolen 3D models (mostly because when I was in this phase there wasn’t enough interest to share them). My thing was using screenshots from video games as backgrounds, examples which you can see on the Date Ariane Wiki. It may not be as bad as theft, but it is still passing off others art as my own.

Eventually, you get good and want to do something more commercial, maybe even potentially sell. I reached that point about 5 years ago when I decided using video game screenshots in Date Ariane was amateurish.

I wanted to start creating stuff I could sell and that required purchasing new content and paying attention to licenses to make sure renders of models could be used commercially. Every prop and figure and texture in the current downloadable versions of Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air, that I did not make myself, was legally purchased.

I didn’t need DRM to keep me honest, it was the desire to keep things legal that kept me honest. DRM would make things more difficult because in some cases I had to go in and change some textures and figures on some of my purchased models and props to fit my needs.

In summary, amateurs don’t care about DRM and its existence or non existence will not get them to buy more, while the professionals who actually do make a lot of purchases are actually harmed with DRM and are unlikely to buy DRM protected models.

So, in this community, DRM really has no place in it.

DAZ3D Buys RuntimeDNA

In the latest bit of drama, the largest 3D product website just bought out the third largest, Runtime DNA.  This has of course created a lot of mixed reactions, especially by the independent artists that broker products at RDNA. Some are happy for the change, thinking DAZ3D will bring in eyeballs and more sales.

Others, for reasons I explained above want no part of DAZ and are looking to move their products somewhere else. There does not seem to be a shortage of places: YUR Digital and CG Bytes seem to be advertising themselves to former RDNA artists, though Renderosity, Hivewire3D, and Content Paradise are better known.

Just more drama for the 3D Community to get over.

More Erotic 3D Dating Sims Part 2

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It seems the most popular post on my blog is “A Few More Erotic 3D Dating Sims” so maybe I should do more posts like that. Here is a few I found in the last year and a half since that post.

Dreaming With Elsa

Written by Tlaero
Art by Mortze
Format HTML using Tlaero’s Adventure Creator
Link to Play  Link to Download

This may be one of the best games in this genre I have ever played. The art is perfection and the story intriguing.  I had this idea for a Rachel game that moves between fantasy and reality, but I abandoned it. This one is better anyways. Elsa is an introverted bookworm like me. I would definitely like hanging out with her. More info here. If you get stuck there is a walkthrough here.

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Brad’s Summer

Written by Fleet
Art by Fleet
Format Javascript/HTML built with Novelty Visual Novel Engine
Link to download

A third person perspective game where you play as Brad, an underachiever who needs money to keep him in school.

Fleet is one of the few people who, like me, write and do all the graphics. This is his latest. My only complaint is that it lacks an easy way to turn off the sometimes annoying music. If you get stuck there is a walkthrough here.

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The-VDates Trilogy: The Gym, The Physio, The Sniper

Format Javascript/Html
Website

The creator of these games seems to be anonymous, but the games themselves are getting good buzz and reviews. The writer has a good sense of humor, and the plots have their share of twists.

The graphics on The Gym are less than ideal, for a good while every girl looks exactly the same and exactly like Victoria 4.  There is a marked improvement in graphics in The Physio. The third volume of the trilogy has yet to be released, but is expected to explain the odd ending of The Physio. If you get stuck, the hosting website includes walkthroughs.

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DigitalEro: The Game Episode 1

Written by GiantKrill
Art by GiantKrill
Format Renpy Engine
Download PC and Mac

When I finished the Renpy version of Date Ariane, I decided to look for other games like Date Ariane that were also built on Renpy and discovered this one. It is comparatively short, you should see all  endings in a half an hours time.

The graphics are done on a video game engine Garry’s Mod rather than the Poser/Daz Studio graphics of the rest. This makes them less realistic, but often more interesting.
More info

Ariane and Rachel Go See Star Wars

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I was on my way to the local premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens when I was accosted by a stormtrooper.

“Halt right there, let me see your pass!” the stormtrooper said, though I could tell it was Rachel under there.

“Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” I asked.

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“Ha, good one!” Rachael said as she was taking off her helmet.

“Thanks, you look ready to see this. Are you excited?” I asked.

“Of course.” she said, “By the way where is your costume?”

“This is my costume,” I said, “Can’t you tell, I’m Jessica Jones.”

“Ah, of course. I just have a couple of problems with that.” she said.

“First, I recall you wore the same outfit the last time I saw you, and second, Jessica Jones is part of the Marvel universe, and we are here to see Star Wars so you are supposed to dress like someone in the Star Wars universe.”

I of course knew this would come up. Rachel is a sci-fi geek and tends to go all out. I decided to have a little fun.

“I can’t help it if Jessica Jones happens to dress like me, besides isn’t the Marvel universe and the Star Wars universe the same thing?”

Rachel gave me an odd look, so I continued:

“I mean Star Wars and Marvel are now owned by Disney, and if all the Marvel comics are set in the same universe, and Marvel published a bunch of Star Wars comics in the ’80s, then they have to be the same.” I did my Google searching before I arrived.

“Nice try,” said Rachel. I knew some geekiness was about to come. “The Marvel Star Wars comics did not contain any references to other Marvel characters, and even if they did, they are not canon, and even if they were canon, they would be part of the old ‘expanded universe’ which are now called ‘The Timeline of Legends’ which Disney decided to drop for the new movies. Also since 1991, Star Wars  comic books have been published by Dark Horse Comics.”

“Sorry,” I said, “I didn’t understand most of that.”

“That’s OK,” replied Rachel with a sigh, “Someone who is better at explaining stuff is on her way here now.”

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I turned around and a red-headed woman dressed similar to “Rey” from the trailers with a BB8 droid rolling beside her.

Rachel made the introductions “Hello Professor, I’d like you to meet Ariane Barnes, the friend I was bringing.”

“Nice to meet you Ariane,” said the professor, “Just call me Paula. As you can guess I teach at the college, and Rachel has taken a couple of classes from me.”

“Well nice to meet you too,” I said, “Nice droid.”

“Thanks,” said Paula, “When I heard that they made a droid like this for real for the movie, I figured out how it works and built one for myself in the college robotics lab. It’s not perfect but it’s a work in progress.”

“Uh, Paula,” said Rachel hesitantly, obviously she prefers to call her Professor, “We were just discussing if there were any connections between the Marvel universe and the Star Wars universe, what do you think?”

“Sure, that’s easy,” said Paula who grabbed a smart phone from a hidden pocket and tapped away for a good minute or so at an impressive speed. Even more impressive is what happened next.

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Paula’s BB8 droid turned around and displayed a holographic projection into the street, then Paula started to explain, “As stated in the introduction of every film, Star Wars is set ‘in a galaxy far, far away’ while the outer space adventures in Marvel are primarily set in our own Milky Way galaxy mostly on Earth but also other planets in the galaxy in the case of Guardians of the Galaxy, or even parallel realms like Asgard in the case of Thor. So Star Wars and Marvel could be in the same universe, but on different galaxies which explains the lack of crossover.  Any questions?”

“Yeah I have one,” said Rachel, “How the hell did you just do that?”

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“Just some new tech we’ve been working on, I decided to add it to my droid here, even though it still does not work in daylight or under bright lights,” explained Paula.

“What generated this question in the first place?” she asked.

“Oh I didn’t have a Star Wars costume to wear so I just dressed like normal and told Rachel here I was dressed like Jessica Jones.  She as expected, geeked out on me with trivia,” I explained.

Paula laughed, “Rachel actually knows more about this stuff than I do, I’m not even sure who Jessica Jones is.”

“A TV show on Netflix that came out last month, based on a Marvel character, it’s really good if you get a chance to check it out,” explained Rachel as she put back on her stormtrooper helmet. I agreed it was good.

“Oh, maybe I will,” said Paula, “I don’t watch much TV, my spare time has been spent working on BB here.”

“Well good job on BB8, I’m thoroughly impressed with him,” I said.

Rachel agreed, then said, “I think it is time we go in and find our seats.”

stormtrooper and BB8 TM Lucasfilms Ltd.
Female stormtrooper and BB8 by rduda
Jessica Jones TM Marvel Inc.
App enabled BB8 droids are available from Apple

How Victoria 7 Is Killing A Hobby

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As someone who does a lot of work in Poser for my games and other projects, that means I am involved in the 3D Rendering community, which I have written about before. About 3 years ago the community started getting bigger thanks to Daz3D releasing Daz Studio for free.

Until then, the community primarily consisted of users of Poser software, which is a fairly expensive program to get started on.  Daz Studio can do a lot of what Poser can do, though it has always lagged behind in certain areas, but it was sophisticated enough to give Poser a challenge, and it offered an inexpensive entry point.

The biggest difference between Daz Studio and Poser is the user interfaces. Both programs have a bit of a learning curve, and once you learn one, you are probably not going to want to learn the other.

For the last 3 years the community has kind of fractured in a friendly rivalry between Poser people, and Daz Studio people. Friendly, because a lot of content could be shared between the programs, and both programs produced some really great images.

One of the stumbling blocks you run into in this hobby is incompatible models. I have been playing with Poser since the “Posette” days which is one of the first female models.  A company called Zygote (now part of Daz3D) came up with the first really great anatomically correct models for Poser called Victoria and Michael. Clothing and accessories made for Posette would not work on Victoria and Michael.

This pattern followed with each model. Victoria and Michael were replaced by Victoria 2 and Michael 2 then Victoria 3 and Michael 3, then Victoria 4 and Michael 4.  Poses, skins, hair, and clothing designed for one model are incompatible with other models.  Not by design, it is just the nature of the constantly improving technology.

I created the first Date Ariane version using Victoria 3, and created and acquired quite a library of Victoria 3 and Michael 3 hair, clothing, and skin textures.  When I started “Something’s In The Air” Victoria 4 had been out for 4 years, and all the latest clothing and accessories were being made for the Victoria 4 and Michael 4 models. I made the leap to the superior model, and never looked back.

Victoria 4 has proven to be a great female model. Extremely versatile, and still the most popular today. It was also the last “Victoria” natively designed to work with Poser.

Daz3D moved on to a “Genesis” modeling system that was much more flexible than the Poser system, and incorporated it natively in Daz Studio. Poser users needed a converter to use Genesis models.  The DSON converter has never worked right, as neither Daz3D or Smith Micro (the makers of Poser) do not have much incentive to get it to work right. Because Genesis was not a huge improvement over Victoria 4, most Poser people did not bother upgrading.

Soon after giving away Daz Studio, Daz3D released Genesis 2.  Genesis 2 is an improvement over Victoria 4 as the joints look more natural in motion.  That has made Genesis 2 popular with all the new Daz3D users and even converted some Poser users to the model despite the broken DSON converter.

Many of us Poser users still stick to Victoria 4 as we can use the powerful “Morphing Tool” to fix minor joint oddities, or find other fixes available.

Third party vendors have found it most profitable to support both Victoria 4 and Genesis 2 models and as a result there are now plenty of skin, hair, clothing and accessories for both models.

Genesis 2 V6 on left, Genesis 3 V7 on right.  Not a huge difference.

And then Victoria 7 / Genesis 3 happened.

This week Daz3D released a new model and dubbed it Victoria 7 to get the name recognition. They are touting the higher polygon count allowing more details like the wrinkles in knuckle joints for example, to make the most realistic human 3D model ever. (Are we at the uncanny valley yet?)

This new model is making rather negative waves in both the Poser and Daz Studio communities.

Daz Studio fans are finding that, as in model generations past, their Genesis 2 clothing and accessories will not work on Genesis 3. That means shelling out lots more money to get all new clothing and accessories for Genesis 3, or just sticking with “obsolete” Genesis 2.

The sad part is Genesis 2 was just finally becoming supported enough by third party vendors that it could compete with Victoria 4 in versatility, but now third party vendors may start having second thoughts if Genesis 3 becomes a thing.

Poser fans are finding fine print on the Victoria 7 page:  Compatible Software: DAZ Studio 4.8
In other words, barring some miracle addition to the upcoming Poser Pro 2016, Genesis 3 models are not compatible with Poser.  That will be a further disincentive for third party vendors to support Genesis 3 as most of the community simply cannot use it at all.

As a Poser user, I have never felt a need to upgrade to figures higher than Victoria 4 and Michael 4, they are still widely supported and clothing, skins, and accessories for them still sell better than any other figure. While each of the Genesis models got more detailed, for my purposes (low res internet images), the details aren’t going to make much difference.

Poser is still better software than Daz Studio, with numerous tools not available in Daz Studio like the above mentioned Morphing Tool, numerous rendering engines to make your images look like drawings, paintings or comic books, including a native photo realistic renderer comparable to the best available for Daz Studio, also tools to fit clothing between models and dynamic clothing for animated cloth motion.

That’s not to say Daz Studio is bad, it handles the tasks most important to hobbyists, photo realistic still rendering and basic animation, as well as Poser does, and its memory management is superior enough to handle higher polygon counts, which is why it handles Genesis 3 and Poser does not.

If Daz3D no longer wants to support Poser, that’s their loss. I foresee a fracturing of the community that is already having negative effects.  The 3D rendering community is already a very small niche group, we do not need to make it smaller.

Here is my hope: There is ONE way this could go right for everybody. There should be a new version of Poser out later this year if they stick to their “every two year” upgrade pattern.

If Poser Pro 2016 were to include support for a complex 173 bone figure, and if Daz3D were to release a “Victoria 7 For Poser” product (no DSON conversion needed) then that would generate lots of interest for both upgrades.

It is such a good idea part of me wonders if this is the plan all along.  I wouldn’t bet on it though.

Director’s Commentary 3: Magic, Malice, and Mayhem

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This is a continuing series of directors commentaries on the Something’s In The Air game available here.  It contains spoilers, and this post is best read after playing the game first.

Almost exactly one year ago, I posted the first beta of Something’s In The Air on a couple of websites where I knew I would get constructive feedback and very few downloads.  After spending two years developing the Rachel character, and even longer developing Ariane, the two “dates” in story 3, Bonnie and Veronica were basically throw away characters, undeveloped extras.

The entire purpose of story 3 from the get go was to 1. have a couple of dateable characters besides Ariane and Rachel, and 2. better establish the important plot point about whether or not there is a lightning storm around 11PM on Saturday night. All of the Ariane dates end in a storm, and all of the Rachel dates don’t. Bonnie and Veronica dates establish that Rachel is the “one of these things that is not like the others.”

To accomplish my goals, all I needed was a couple of stories that end in a thunderstorm.  For fun I decided to give story 3 a comic book theme: using a font that looks hand written, occasionally abandon the  first person perspective like on the road trip with Veronica, and adding floating onomatopoeia words in the pool table scene.  Following the comic theme, the plots were originally designed, to be “good” Bonnie vs “bad” Veronica.  Many changes later the official theme turned into “Bad dates”.  Bonnie and Veronica demonstrate how badly dates can go, as a way to balance all the relatively good dates of the other dateable characters, and also because bad dates can be really funny.

Story 3 is the shortest, and the first one I completed, and ultimately the one that changed the most in beta testing. This was the original Bonnie:

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She looked “exotic” with darker skin tone but Asian facial features.  Cute but dressed rather plainly.  The comments I got on her were not favorable. It also was pointed out that Wendy the weightlifter had already filled my quota of dateable exotic darker skinned beauties, and between Ariane, Wendy, Veronica, and most of the time Rachel, I had too many Brunettes. So I made her a blonde haired blue eyed beauty, which was OK since I cut two other blondes (Heidi and Stacy) roles to support characters.

That’s enough history, let’s get started with story 3…

Go Back to Sleep

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The story opens with a naked blue “Medusa” with snakes for hair.  This opening image is supposed to get a “WTF?” reaction from players. Stories 1 and 2 are pretty normal and reality based, and suddenly we have a naked blue creature with a magical staff.  Like most movies and TV shows where something is out of place, it ends up being a dream sequence, or in this case a video game.  Trivia: the head shape for “Medusa” is the same head shape as Veronica, she also has blue skin, Veronica’s skin is later painted blue.

We then meet Ranger Dude who is the game avatar of the player character.  I have been into MMORPGs for years, so when I decided to incorporate a game within a game, it had to be an MMORPG.  My original plan was to make these video game scenes in Second Life, to make the gaming scenes more primitive looking than the Poser pictures, but ultimately decided that it is more interesting if the video game scenes look just as real as the reality scenes, and have the fantasy elements be their only distinction.

One of the games I play is Guild Wars, and I usually played a Ranger.  In the original Guild Wars, a global rule was that most of the beasts in Tyria were based on one of the four classic Greek elements: fire, water, air, and earth. If you hit such a creature with its opposite element, it would do more damage.  Fire creature hate water (ice) damage, creatures that spew electrical damage (air) were damaged themselves by earth (rock) damage. Many RPGs from the original Dungeons and Dragons to  World of Warcraft had similar rules regarding elemental damage.  My strategy in Guild Wars was to carry four bows, each with a different elemental string and switch to the bow most likely to damage the creatures I would be facing.  It was a very successful strategy for me, but rarely used by players, because they did not want to carry around a bunch of different element damage weapons all the time.  Elemental damage was dropped completely in Guild Wars 2 due to lack of popularity.

But I kept the elemental damage rule for my game within a game, in fact the silly name for my made up MMORPG is “Elemental Realms” thus emphasizing the rules of elemental damage.  The Medusa of legend turned men into stone if you looked into her eyes.  That makes her an Earth based creature, and thus most vulnerable to lightning damage.  It also happens to be a cool foreshadowing of things to come.  But this is a comedy, so the tense video game scene ends in a penis joke.

Next is the baseball scene. In writing the plot I meticulously figured out a timeline for the days events.  The game starts at 7 AM on Saturday, and Ariane and Rachel are both in the restaurant bar at 7 PM. I needed a way to keep the player busy for a few hours so he would get to the restaurant bar after Ariane and Rachel had already left.  An afternoon baseball game that runs late was the best I could come up with.  Once a longer scene, the baseball game is now one heavily edited picture my dad took at a Yankee Stadium, with all references to Yankees, Major League Baseball, or the dozens of real companies advertising in the background blurred out or changed.  Of course the city that this whole adventure takes place in is never named, so the baseball team can’t actually be named either.

The game ends after 8 PM, so when you get to the bar Rachel, Ariane, and Dave have already gone. Veronica, who just came from the movie theater as seen in story 1 is there.

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Let’s talk about Veronica.  She is the token “bad girl”. Because I have had my car stolen by kids so they can go on joy rides, ultimately getting my car back a few days later when the cops find it abandoned somewhere, the idea of a car thief seemed pretty evil to me.  My original model design was very simple: This Assassin Angel character at DAZ seemed the obvious choice, especially due to her resemblance to Angelina Jolie in Gone in 60 Seconds.  Eventually, I decided the resemblance to Angelina Jolie to be too distracting, and went with Jordana Brewster from The Fast and The Furious films. (Just kidding, I went with a generic female head), but I kept the sexy leather outfit and the tattooed skin.

I’m aware I am using a tired trope in representing a “bad girl” with tattoos. I know quite a few women with tattoos, and none of them are evil. Good tattooed skin is hard to find in Poser models, so call it a coincidence that the only tattooed character is a “bad girl”.

Ironically, she is also wearing a “cross” necklace.  I originally envisioned the character’s personality to be similar to Faith the Vampire Slayer, who ironically wears a cross to slay vampires.  My universe does not actually have vampires (or does it?), but I added the cross with that in mind.  Veronica is also very tech savvy, and the camo hip pouch she wears is filled with cool tech gadgets.

For example, fancy new cars can be potentially easy to steal by the sophisticated techie thief.  Newer cars can be “called” through the cell tower network.  That’s how car control apps on smart phones work, and how OnStar or similar services can remote control your car.  I figure Veronica has some kind of hacked device that lets her unlock cars after scanning the VID number bar code.  Once in, she can attach a computer to the terminal port under the driver dash of every new car and start it up. All of this is technically possible to do, though there are plenty of safeguards in place.  This is how I imagine Veronica steals fancy late model cars in 5 minutes for joyriding purposes.

Sure I just got done watching five hours of baseball…

But for the purposes of this commentary we are going to talk about baseball which is a big turn off for Veronica.  This is the only real choice in story 3 and it is a purposely vague choice. Talk about baseball gets you Bonnie for the evening, not talking baseball gets you Veronica.

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Bonnie’s story is pretty simple.  After she gets off work, she suggest billiards and the place most likely to have a free table is a strip club. The “Live Cabaret” is a popular venue in Date Ariane and I wanted to find a way to bring it back in SITA.  This is what I came up with.

If you look at the “Live Cabaret” posters in Date Ariane, you will see that “billiards” is mentioned on the advertisement poster (as if that would be an important selling point for a strip club), so you can see I was already establishing this plot when I made the poster.

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Like Bonnie, I played pool all the time at the Student Union in College. In designing the placement of balls on the table during these pics I made a real game out of it, having Bonnie plan out each shot like a pro.

As you play, Bonnie flashes back to an event where she ended up on stage and accidentally took her top off.  This was originally the best way I could think of to get Bonnie naked in this short story: in flashback.  Later of course, I added a sex scene.

Trivia: The “original” Bonnie’s left arm makes a cameo appearance in the animation of the winning shot. After deciding I needed to replace old Bonnie with new Bonnie, I had to redo about 50 or so pictures, including Bonnie’s appearances in story 1 and 2.  The 8 ball animation took hours to render originally, and I did not want to do that again, so I figured I would keep the original animation and with the lighting, no one would notice it is not “new” Bonnie’s arm making that shot.

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After winning the game, Bonnie has a “psychic” flash that something is about to happen, and sure enough a storm happens, and that is where the “original” Bonnie story ended. The abrupt ending was a result of me not knowing how to end it.  I could not think of a good ending that wasn’t basically something that also happens on the Ariane or Rachel dates already.

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Even though the story accomplished my goals, it was too short.  My first attempt at lengthening the story involved an exotic dance by a topless “vampire”.  I had a short piece of music I could use, and thought it would be fun to animate the routine to the music.  If you stop advancing the pictures just as the dancer shows her fangs, the game will display the dance routing in perfect sync with the music.

That made for good story padding, but the ending outside the strip club still seemed too abrupt.  I figured that players would make up their own ending, but beta testers didn’t like that.  One of my beta testers said the whole plot seemed “fishy”, like the date was a “setup” to “something”, but then nothing happened.  Another beta tester just wanted a sex scene, even though you barely know this girl.

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That’s when I realized what was missing: While I still could not think of a “good” way to end Bonnie’s story, I could think of a ton of ways to end it badly.  So many bad endings in fact that it became a question of which “bad” scenario should I add?  Then I realized I wanted to do all of them.

This is contrary to visual novel rules that provide choices to get to the endings.   Not only that, these endings are completely contradictory; is Bonnie a budding porn star?, or a good Christian?  Then I thought, “Screw convention, its more entertaining if you never know what you are going to get.”  The Bonnie plot is ultimately about sleeping with a woman you barely know, and realizing after the fact it was a bad move.  Besides, like Veronica (obviously), Bonnie is a one shot guest star, so it really does not matter what the canonical “real Bonnie” is.

I like the idea of random bad endings so much I’m bringing it to Date Ariane Upgraded.  After realizing that there are 118 pictures devoted to a rarely accessed part of Date Ariane where she gets drunk on whiskey, I decided I don’t want to spend that much effort remaking that scene. My plan is to replace Whiskey with Absinthe, and instead of Ariane passing out, you the player will pass out and wake up in one of 10 random strange places.

And there you have it. Story 3 is complete. Eventually, I’ll get around to doing one last commentary on story 4.