How Victoria 7 Is Killing A Hobby


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.

The 3D Content Community

As you know I have been spending a lot of time working on my Visual Novel rather than writing in this blog, which is a good thing, because I want to get it done just as much as some of you want to play it.  Part of doing this project faster and better involves extensive use of the 3D Content Community.  I have never really talked about it much, it is kind of an odd subculture, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

One reason some of you might be interested in learning about the 3D Content Community is that getting into this hobby has never been cheaper.  Daz 3D has released 3 programs for free during the month of February, including Daz Studio Pro 4, Poser’s main competition.  Why would they give away $800 worth of software for free?  Well Hexagon and Bryce are easy to explain, they are minor 3D programs with lots of competition.  The “professional” community primarily uses Autodesk’s 3D Studio Max and Maya, these are the “Photoshop” programs in 3D and if you want to do this stuff professionally, it is what you need to know.  The cheaper and easier alternative is another Daz 3D owned property Carrara. It’s the “Paintshop Pro” of 3D, and gets a lot of support online. Not only it is easy to learn, it can open and save 3DMax files.  The free open source option is Blender, and its the GIMP of 3D.  Blender was the first to export SL “Sculpties”, making it popular in the Second Life community.  Left out in the cold is Hexagon (a 3D object builder) and Bryce (a 3D scene building program specializing in terrain building and atmosphere effects).  Making them available for free builds up their market share.

Daz 3D Studio Pro is becoming more and more popular.  For figure animation and rendering it is in second place behind Poser, and growing in popularity as it is now equal in capabilities.  Why would they give away a program that it already selling fairly well?  That answer is easy.  In the 3D community, the money is not in the software sales, it is in the content sales.  Getting more people interested in buying 3D content is the name of the game.  Daz (formerly Zygote) is the most popular provider of 3D content.  They make the “Millenium” models, the most popular is Victoria and Michael.  Victoria 4 and Michael 4 have been out for about 4 years now and far and away the largest amount of support, especially when it comes to vitally important accessories, like clothes, hair, textures, shapes, poses, and sets.  Recently Daz 3D introduced the “Genesis” model, which is a higher resolution version of Millenium, and Victoria 5 is the premiere product on this platform.

The problem with Victoria 5, is the same problem for all new models: Very little content.  That will change in time as the model gets more popular, but for now Victoria 4 is the queen of content, and the difference between V4 and V5 is not big enough for people with large V4 inventories to switch.  Hence Daz 3D needs new users, and giving away Daz 3D Studio Pro, will hopefully make that happen.  You can also get the base model Victoria 5 for the cost of a magazine.

Now that I have shown you how to get into 3D art, the next question is “why?”  The answer varies from person to person.  Mostly it is some creative outlet.  Renderosity was built on being a showcase for budding 3D artists to show their work.  Now that deviantART and Flickr have taken over that role, Renderosity has become the largest content provider.  A lot of us got into it by doing interesting stills.  I myself have taken some photography classes, and I have used the things I have learned in photography to help my 3D stills work.  What drove me was an interest in animation, which proved to be a lot of work, so I took an in between route and  learned to tell stories with pictures.  This has proven to be an awesome creative outlet, not too difficult or expensive, and lots of fun.  I am finding 3D story telling communities popping up, and I find it rewarding how many quote my dating sim as an influence.

There are dozens of websites that specialize in 3D models, mostly for the professional Autodesk users for commercial renders and animation.  Since my program of choice is Poser, I limit myself to sites that specialize in Poser content. The above mentioned Daz 3D and Renderosity are the two most popular, rounding out the top 3 is Content Paradise which is owned by Smith Micro, the makers of Poser.  Their library is more extensive than the other two, but the quality control is not as tight, I use it for stuff I cant find anywhere else.

As usual, there is also the “free” content sites, the largest is ShareCG.  I have managed to find some good quality stuff there, but a lot of it is unusable.  Be careful with the licensing on that site too, a lot is “non-commercial” only.  The guitars and drums in the picture up top came from this site by a 3D artist Music2u4u.  I wish these props were more animate-able, but they are great quality for “free” models.

In a future post I should like to discuss the differences between the 3D content community and the Second Life content community, and how they could learn from each other.  Meanwhile, I got some new toys to play with.