Date Ariane HD

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In honor of Renpy version 7 finally being released, I’m releasing Date Ariane, one of the most downloaded Renpy games ever (5.9 million downloads all versions combined), in Renpy 7 and in HD.

The images are all 1500×900, originally rendered when I did the graphics update in 2017. Add in the 180px black bottom part and the total resolution is 1500×1080. It looks really good blown up on a full sized monitor.  The Renpy engine automatically changes the fonts when you change the size so they always look sharp and crisp.

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I know some questions are going to come up so here are my answers:

What versions of the game are available in HD?

For now just the English PC, Mac, and Linux versions.

What has changed?

The section which used to be called the gallery moved to the main menu and many of the gallery sections have been rewritten to work better in Renpy 7.  This includes a new animated credit sequence, and a help sequence that points out the key binds of Renpy better, allowing play via Keyboard, Mouse, or Gamepad.

I’ve taken advantage of Renpy’s background/foreground tools to change the look of some scenes, primarily the bad endings. This reduced the number of images, but because foreground requires images in larger png files, it did not reduce the size of the download.

I’ve gotten rid of the “button” look of the player choices.  Larger screen means the buttons don’t have to be obvious.

How do I download it?

You download it from the same download page as before. When you pick to download the Windows, Mac or Linux versions, you get the HD versions instead.

How big is the download?

Download size has increased from 180MB to 340MB due to larger images, many of which are in png format instead of jpg.

Are you going to release it in other languages?

I would love to if I can figure out a way to move the translations to the new version. That’s actually very difficult.

Are you going to release it in android?

No. The game is already a challenge on android at 200MB, the increase to 350MB would make it unplayable on most android devices, and the smaller screens cannot take advantage of the increased resolution.

Is there any new material in this version?

Yes, but you’ll have to find it yourself.

Why do some of the walkthroughs not work with the HD version?

To make the game a little challenging, there is a rule that if you engage in intimacy too early, like open with a kiss, or try for second base while dancing before eating, then Ariane might reconsider her opinion of you later and change the outcome of the walkthrough. I have updated “Pizza Dinner”, “Steak Dinner”, and “Start of a romantic evening” to avoid early intimacy.

UPDATE: For Mac Users

If you use a Mac to play I added an icns file which should replace the generic Renpy icon with a proper Date Ariane icon. If it worked, leave a comment.

More screen shots from “Ariane In Paradise”

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I’ve been posting random pictures I’m making for the game on other social media. Thought I’d collect them here in one post.

Here is a render I really like of Ariane eating a banana in front of a grocery store.  Some have pointed out that the banana looks huge. I think that if you are on a tropical island where bananas are grown you are likely to find bigger and better bananas. At least that is my story.

“Epicerie” is French for Grocery.  Notice that the chalkboard sign is in French as well with prices in Euros. This is partly due to the grocery store prop came that way, but also due to a conscious design decision on my part.

If I am going to make a fictional tropical island, I need to make some decisions like what language they speak there. Looking at a map of the world and tropical islands there in, I decided that French speaking islands are the most common. French speaking islands exist in the Mediterranean (Corsica), Caribbean (French West Indies), the Pacific (Tahiti and the rest of French Polynesia), and the Indian Ocean (Seychelles, Reunion).

Therefore as a fictional member of Overseas France, most of the predominant signage should be in French, and prices in Euros. But to attract English speaking tourism, there will be a lot of stuff in English as well, like the “Come In We’re Open” sign.

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I dubbed the island “Duquesne” (pronounced “doo-cane”) after a tiny town in Arizona. It sounds French and a little exotic, even though it is also the name of a University near Pittsburgh.  I googled it to see if an island by that name exists, turns out there is one in a lake in Ontario Canada, which was the set of a fake documentary made in Canada.  (I had to change my VPN to a Canadian ISP to watch it, it’s hilarious)  That made me want to keep the name even more.

I also came up with a whole backstory to the island, but I’ll save that for the game.

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As promised Rachel makes an appearance or two. The weird pirate stuff in the background and Rachel’s goofy hat have logical explanations.

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Here’s the first actual screenshot of the game. As promised you can play as a buff and tan male or female, and you can name your character whatever you want. While most of the game is in first person, occasionally there will be moments where you can see yourself.

There will be scenes that only male characters get, and scenes that only female characters get.

An early objective of the game is to get to know Ariane.  As you do, she asks about you, and you get to make stuff up about yourself.  For example, the first question Ariane asks are what you are doing on the island. You can say “vacation” or “business”, and just like choosing male or female, there are things that only vacationers get to do, and things only business people get to do.  There are at least five other similar choices you can make.

This will likely result in confusion over choices, and make extra work for me in writing it, but it just adds to the fun of repeat play.

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I made this image for fun. Not sure if it will ever be relevant to the plot or not, but for now it makes a great loading screen.

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One of the joys of making your own game is throwing in the odd pop culture easter egg just for the fun of it.

My Next Game: Ariane in Paradise

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I have been hesitant to post anything about this, because I have a bad habit of starting something and then bailing on it half way through, but I am far enough along on this project to tell you about it.

If you follow me on Facebook and Tumblr, you may have noticed that my latest Ariane pictures look similar and she is dressed the same. That’s because I am making a new game.  Currently titled “Ariane in Paradise”.

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After experimenting with the genre with Something In The Air and Rachel and Ariane, I wanted to go back and do a second game like Date Ariane that is a little more chaotic and spontaneous.  My original thought was create a new character, but I like Ariane too much so I decided I just need a new setting.

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I thought about a tropical island game since I made the epilogue of Something In The Air, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. Then I saw VDateGames has already done a couple of them,  Zoe is free to play if you want to get the idea of where I am going with this.

It also helps that over the years I have collected a bunch of tropical themed 3D sets that I have barely even used.

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The basic premise is this: Ariane follows Rachel to a fictional tropical island, where for Rachel it is a work trip: she is doing photo shoots for the entire week. This leaves Ariane all alone during the daytime hours to find some fun things to do.  You are on vacation alone on the same island where you meet Ariane at the hotel pool.

I don’t want to get into details, because they are likely to change, but I wanted to throw that premise out there to tie all the stories together.  You are not playing the same character as Date Ariane and SITA, in fact you can choose to be female if you want, that means you have to meet Ariane all over again.

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Also, Ariane only has free time during the day, which means that unlike Date Ariane and SITA, both of which primarily take place at night, this game will primarily take place under sun and mostly blue skies.

I made it a fictional place, because making it a real place could offend people that live there.  A fictional place allows me to, for example, create relaxed nudity laws. It also helps that my collection of exotic island sets include Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Polynesian looking props, so a generic tropical island in an unnamed ocean keeps the anachronisms down.

I have no time table of when it will be done. SITA and Rachel and Ariane both took around two years.  I’m doing this for my own enjoyment, and I hate deadlines, so it will be ready when its ready.

More VR Fun: Rendering Real 3D for VR

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I have experimented a little with trying to create 3D images that actually look 3D.  Years ago, I did the Stereo “Magic Eye” thing.

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(this is supposed to be a woman reading a book on a couch)

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About a decade ago, I also attempted my own red-cyan anaglyph (which doesn’t look that good).

So with Oculus Go, I discovered I could make my own 3D images with true left and right eye separation. The question is how?

Suffice it to say it took a lot of experimenting, but I finally created a 3D image that actually looks 3D when viewed in an Oculus, and you can download it here.

To view it, download the full 6000×3000 image to your computer, connect your Oculus Go to the PC using a USB cable. Put on Oculus to “allow” access to from the PC.  Open up VR-Headset Drive, internal shared storage, and “Pictures” folder, and drop the beachside3D image into this folder.  Put on the headset, open the “Gallery”, then “On this device”, then select the beachside3D image, then click on the 2D projection in the corner, and change it to 3D 180 projection. The result is a beautiful 3D image seen at the top of this post.

Yeah I know it’s complicated to view.  Just as complicated to make.

 

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Creating the Image

These instructions are for Poser, but you should be able to figure it out with DAZ Studio or any other 3D Rendering software.

First, you need a 3D set with a decent amount of complexity and depth.  Then a subject matter that is positioned front and center. You want to use “Dolly Camera” with focal length 25mm (a wide angle lens) and Roll (z-axis spin) at 0.

Render however you want, but do not use depth of field, everything must be in focus. In this example I rendered 1280×720 resolution.  If you make it bigger, you will have to adjust the dimensions of the black field accordingly.  Once rendered, this is going to be your “right eye” image.  Save it as a png file.  To make the left eye, take the “yaw” angle (x-axis spin) and subtract 5 degrees, then adjust the x-axis camera position to re-center the main subject, and render again.  Save it separately.

Oculus Go’s 3D 180 view assumes that the left eye and right eye information contains full 180 degree spherical view.  Most 3D rendering programs like Poser and Daz Studio, do not have a way to do this natively, so you have to do multiple renders and stitch them together with panorama maker software like Hugin, but that is outside of the scope of this tutorial, as that takes hours maybe days to create and still might turn out wrong.  We’re just making a view master style image.

Since the left, right, up and down views of the 180 degree view don’t exist, we are just going to frame our image in a square black window.  Basically we are projecting our image and the black frame onto a spherical wall. If we make the frame too big, the image part will look too small, if we make the frame too small the image will look distorted.

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After experimenting, I found a 1280×720 picture in a 3000×3000 black frame is a fair compromise. So we take the two png files and use our photo editing software to create a 3000×3000 black image with our picture centered in the middle. Once I have the two 3000×3000 pixel images, I combine them into a single 6000×3000 image, with the “left” image on the left, and “right” on the right.

If you don’t have an Oculus Go or some other VR, you can try using your eyes to combine the two images into one to see the basic effect.

Now that I have the basic formula down, I might try making more of these later. Let’s just say I have about a dozen failed experiments to get this one right.

 

Virtual Reality with Oculus Go

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I mentioned in January’s blog post that there has been a number of attempts to make VR more mainstream and there are a number of obstacles to overcome to get people there.  The biggest one being cost.  Then buried in the numerous stories regarding Facebook is the release of the cheapest ever entry point into VR: Oculus Go.

For as cheap as $200, you can get a completely stand alone VR setup. No PC required, no expensive video card, and best of all no cables attached to your neck that prevent turning.  The only outside requirements are a smart phone or tablet to download the Oculus App so you can buy stuff, and a wifi connection so you can download stuff.

I know what you are thinking: “For that price there are probably limitations” and yes it is true.  Oculus Go is basically the equivalent of a Samsung Galaxy with Gear VR.  The library available for the Go is nearly the same as for Gear VR, but it has a stand alone wifi tablet built in instead of needing to attach your Samsung phone.

More expensive VR setups are also more sophisticated.  HTC Vive tracks its position with multiple cameras so you use your entire body to move around. Go only tracks your head and one hand with the controller in it.  I’m actually OK with this. Sophisticated VR setups require you to stand and move around to be useful with the added danger of running into stuff. With GO, I can experience most everything in a comfy office chair that swivels around.

Another limitation is “cell phone graphics”.  The big graphics intensive VR games and platforms are probably not going to run on Go, and that is going to be a problem for the VR industry as a whole if Go becomes a thing.

Lastly there is a problem with battery life. Expect only 2 to 3 hours per charge, or do what I do and get an extra long usb to micro usb cable and keep it connected. It will still drain battery, but slower. Lowering the brightness will help, too.

The VR Experience

On the positive side, the VR you experience on this cheap device is very good. HD-VR pictures and videos look great, and most of the content available is in this category. Video games tend to be simplistic with low-res textures to keep the frame rates high — a requirement for real immersive VR. I’ve tried a few games, and they all avoid realistic graphics for this reason.

Despite the low res look, playing a game that covers your entire field of view in 3D with a high frame rate is quite an amazing experience.

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The problem with new hardware: The software problem!

There is another limitation, but it is an artificial one that will eventually be overcome… maybe: Right now, your only source of software is the Oculus store, and right now the selection is a bit on the slim side.  The future of VR rests on sales of Oculus Go.  If it is finally the breakout VR hit the industry has been waiting for, all of those VR content creators who have been spending billions with little return to show for it, will need to get onto the Go.

If on the other hand Go sales are as lame as Gear VR and Playstation VR sales were, the Oculus store will continue to struggle for content.

And that’s the real question here. Awash in investor money, VR software development was big four years ago. Every one wanted to create the software for the next big thing, and that was supposed to be VR.

Development money is drying up. Much of the content is one to two years old, and many of the VR videos come from companies like CNN that are no longer investing resources in VR videos.

Thus we have a vicious circle. For VR to go mainstream, Oculus Go needs to sell well, but for it to really sell well, there needs to be software or content that people want to play and use, but for that content to develop, Oculus Go needs to sell well.

A Look at the current content

So here are some mini reviews of the content I found available now:

Epic Roller Coasters – Probably the best way to demo VR is with a virtual roller coaster. Everyone knows this, which is why roller coaster videos and demos are pretty much everywhere. Epic Roller Coasters is the best of these, not only with the most interesting environments, but there is a physics game you can play where you must use a brake and accelerator to finish as quick as possible without crashing. Demo is free, $10 to unlock all of the coasters.

Bait – Once you get tired of making yourself dizzy with roller coasters, you can go to the other extreme with a fishing simulator.  It’s actually kind of relaxing, but I got bored of the repetitive play in the demo and didn’t bother with the full version.

Rush – This is a glider suit racing challenge.  This is a game that is perfect for VR, but suffers from the lack of realistic graphics. Gets repetitive after a while.

They Suspect Nothing – This is a series of mini arcade games packaged in a funny robot oriented theme that is very entertaining. As with many “mini arcade games” some are more fun than others, but there is less chance of boredom with more things to do.  I also tried Wonderglade which is another mini arcade game, it has a “magic school” theme clearly designed for kids.

Amaze VR – A collection of about 200 videos, and because they are sorted by popularity the ones featuring beautiful models dancing, exotic dancing, and trying on bikinis in front of the camera are all near the top.  There is even the first chapter of a dating simulator, but unfortunately no second chapter.  Often the models in these videos are close enough to the camera that they feel like they are too close.  This is all PG stuff but it ironically demos the potential for VR porn.

Republique VR – Finally a real story driven video game. It’s a stealth game where you try and lead a prisoner to safety. Often involves puzzles and what not.  Apparently this game started originally as a mobile game and was upgraded to VR. I only got started but so far it feels cool.

Oculus Gallery, Netflix VR, Hulu VR – Ironically, one of the best uses for VR is the ability to watch good old 2D movies and TV in a virtual simulation of a theater or home living room. The lighting in the room even changes depending on the light from the screen.  Or you can just play it in a “void” and watch TV through the goggles while laying down comfortably so you don’t have to face the TV to watch.

Oculus Rooms – If any app would be a “killer app” (an app that would encourage others to get the product), it might be Oculus Rooms.  Oculus being a Facebook product, the focus is on meeting others virtually.  Oculus Rooms allows multiple people to meet together virtually and engage in multiple mutual activities like watch TV and movies together, play a board game, or just hang out and chat.

But is it a “killer app”? I have been doing these kinds of activities with others online for 15 years in Second Life and There.com, both of which are declining in use. This is also not the first VR type product like this AltspaceVR (which is also available on GO) has been around a while and also struggling for users, almost shutting down last year.

The bottom line is that the current offerings on Go mostly feel like “gimmicks”. It is going to take a larger user base to start developing the platform into something people not only want but will use regularly.

Thanks to Governments: A Radically Different Internet Is Coming!

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The battle for Net-Neutrality, which despite of what you heard is still ongoing, seems to have changed government regulators attitudes towards the internet on what they can and cannot regulate and censor.

I knew this is where it would go.  As soon as you let Government change how the internet works, you open the doors to all sorts of shenanigans.  All those “Libertarians” who were saying that “Net Neutrality is government interference” even though I have been saying it is the exact opposite for years, well they can just go fuck off, because their ignorance is guaranteeing government interference.

The wild west days of making money off the internet are very much numbered now.  The internet as it looks today will likely be a distant memory within 10 years, even if we somehow get Net Neutrality back.  Big changes are coming, some I might even agree with, but their ultimate effects are unknown.

How Europe’s New Privacy Rule is Reshaping The Internet

Let’s start with one I kind of agree with.  With all the concerns over Facebook sharing data with political data miners Cambridge Analytica with ties to Russia, it seems something needs to be done on the privacy front.  The EU has new rather tough new laws regarding what web sites are allowed to gather about you.  The penalties are big enough that even major companies are changing their policy.

Have you been noticing a lot of “This site uses cookies” pop ups lately? This EU regulation is why.  Also, data collection websites like Google and Facebook have to be open about what data they collect on you, and you have the right to opt out.

Because much of the internet traffic flows through Europe, the EU’s regulations affect everybody, unless you are an American ISP collecting data about your own customers, which the GOP forced through last year.

Meanwhile in America, Law Enforcement Can Access All your Data Just By Asking

Slipped into the must pass budget was the CLOUD Act.  A piece of legislation actually supported by data collection companies, because it basically allows them to wash their hands of the whole issue:

As we wrote before, the CLOUD Act is a far-reaching, privacy-upending piece of legislation that will:

  • Enable foreign police to collect and wiretap people’s communications from U.S. companies, without obtaining a U.S. warrant.
  • Allow foreign nations to demand personal data stored in the United States, without prior review by a judge.
  • Allow the U.S. president to enter “executive agreements” that empower police in foreign nations that have weaker privacy laws than the United States to seize data in the United States while ignoring U.S. privacy laws.
  • Allow foreign police to collect someone’s data without notifying them about it.
  • Empower U.S. police to grab any data, regardless if it’s a U.S. person’s or not, no matter where it is stored.

And, as we wrote before, this is how the CLOUD Act could work in practice:

London investigators want the private Slack messages of a Londoner they suspect of bank fraud. The London police could go directly to Slack, a U.S. company, to request and collect those messages. The London police would not necessarily need prior judicial review for this request. The London police would not be required to notify U.S. law enforcement about this request. The London police would not need a probable cause warrant for this collection.

Predictably, in this request, the London police might also collect Slack messages written by U.S. persons communicating with the Londoner suspected of bank fraud. Those messages could be read, stored, and potentially shared, all without the U.S. person knowing about it. Those messages, if shared with U.S. law enforcement, could be used to criminally charge the U.S. person in a U.S. court, even though a warrant was never issued.

This basically allows police states to trace web activity of individuals all over the world. Bottom line, as I wrote a year ago, is you will need to be even more vigilant with your online privacy than ever before!

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The Horribly Misguided War on Internet Porn

Last year, the Tory Government of the UK attempted to regulate and censor the internet.  Then they had an election which effectively killed those plans (so far).  Meanwhile, in the US, Congress passed legislation that may be more draconian than UK’s attempt.

The U.S. Senate just voted 97-2 to pass the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865), a bill that silences online speech by forcing Internet platforms to censor their users. As lobbyists and members of Congress applaud themselves for enacting a law tackling the problem of trafficking, let’s be clear: Congress just made trafficking victims less safe, not more.

Lately, there has been a lot of action to stop sex trafficking.  Sex trafficking is basically organized forced rape of its victims, and unfortunately it is rather prevalent around the world.  Everyone should be against sex trafficking.

Here is the cynical problems with this approach:  1. Somehow conservative politicians equate escort services with sex trafficking.  “Escorts” are in the profession by choice, can choose their clients, and reserve the right to say no.  They are not sex traffickers, no are they part of the sex trafficking industry, but they are low hanging fruit that lawmakers can exploit to say they are doing something about it.  This reduces resources to investigate and stop the real sex trafficking industry which has many real victims including children.

Problem #2: This is a back handed way to implement SOPA.  SOPA in case you don’t remember was a mandate for websites to self police themselves. It would force websites to closely monitor all posts for copyright violations, and other illegal content. It would have effectively closed down major websites that allow user created content unless they hired thousands of people to monitor all content that goes on the site.  FOSTA forces websites to self monitor for sex trafficking.  Because of this Craigslist was forced to shut down the personals section of its website.  No big loss there as far as I am concerned.

The problem is there are legitimate websites used by escorts to safely find clients that are likely to be affected and shut down, this will drive web traffic of this nature further underground and make the sex trafficking problem even worse.

But a bigger fear is that law enforcement will use FOSTA as a way to regulate web traffic of all sorts, and once government’s foot is in the door on this, the next step is to break down the door.  How long before government goes after all porn in the name of stopping sex trafficking?

UPDATE: FOSTA results in raid of Backpage.com. To quote from the story:

Some in the sex worker industry say that removing Backpage from the Internet takes away a safe mechanism for screening clients and that the ads will simply move to sites outside the country or to social media.

There are already governments like the state of Rhode Island proposing taxes on internet porn.  How such legislation could possibly be enforced is troubling. There is no porn on/off switch on the internet.  There exist VPN services designed to block content so that concerned parents can think their kids are safe online, but making everyone use these unless they pay a $20 fee with a picture ID and a written statement saying you want to watch porn, is downright fascist.

Would you be willing to pay a $20 fee and register yourself as a porn watcher just so you can go to legitimate websites that are not “kid friendly”?  Such decisions are likely in our future.

The House of Cards that is Online Advertising

Combining Governments new concern for online privacy with the fiasco that targeted advertising created in 2016 with the Brexit vote in the UK and the Trump election in the US, “targeted advertising” via data collection is getting a bad reputation.

I have been thinking for years that companies that advertise online probably are not getting as much out of it as they think.  Especially those clickbait sites that steal material from other sites, slightly rewrite it to avoid copyright, post it online saturated with ads, then buy ads on Facebook to get people to come to their ad saturated sites, and somehow turn a profit.

Google and Facebook are two of the biggest companies in the world, and they pretty much make all their money on supposedly “targeted advertising”.  Companies looking to sell stuff buy ads on these platforms in hopes that they will be seen by people likely to be interested in their products.  Is the advertising working? Obviously it is working at least a little bit, or nobody would be making any money.

Here’s the problem: it’s not working as well as it used to.

Popular websites struggling

Sites that depend on online advertising for revenue are not doing as well as they used to. Even major sites like Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Reddit seem to have low profit margins if they make a profit at all.  They try to bolster those profits by adding more ads to their sites which of course just annoys readers.

One of my favorite sites was Cracked.com which I visited frequently mostly for their entertaining videos.  On December 6, 2017 Cracked.com’s parent company laid off all the people responsible for those videos. What is left of the site is a skeleton crew that is likely going to turn into another clickbait site.

You Tube Channels are struggling

Making money on You Tube got really big when word got out that some You Tube stars were making millions annually in ad revenue from the site.  This of course started a flood until newcomers were finding out that making original content videos was hard and only the most popular were making the big bucks.

To make matters worse, advertisers on You Tube were upset to learn their ads were appearing on You Tube channels with controversial content. So You Tube started flagging channels with such content. The controversy started with racist and sexist alt-right hate channels, but You Tube also flagged channels that support the LGBT community.

Some of these channels launched Patreon pages which seeks financial help from viewers in the form of small monthly donations. This has helped small operators make money lost on declining advertising revenue.  There was a policy change on Patreon last December that threatened that as a source of revenue, but fortunately it got reversed.  Still it is a lesson that trying to make a living online is a very insecure and unreliable source of income.

Paywalls and More Paywalls

If you are like me, you are going through your facebook feed and reddit news clicking on links that look interesting and finding more and more that they are blocked by paywalls.  With the decline of online advertising, the only way for news sites to stay profitable is get subscribers.

We internet patrons are already paying a lot for our internet connection. How many web sites and Patreons and Twitch channels can we subscribe to realistically on top of that?

The internet has a financing problem, and I’d says we are one recession away from losing thousands of websites and content creators.

The Future looks like Amazon.com

If regulation shuts down social media sites, and declining advertising and subscribers shuts down news sites, we are probably looking at a future internet that looks like Amazon.com.

A board member of Google pretty much said as much in an interview:

Google has competitors in all of tech’s largest companies, but the one former CEO Eric Schmidt is watching the most is Amazon.

“Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo,” he said during a visit to a Native Instruments, software and hardware company in Berlin. “But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon. People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon.”

Schmidt noted that people are looking for a different kind of answers on Amazon’s site through the slew of reviews and product pages, but it’s still about getting information.

Is that where the internet is headed? Who knows, the future is very difficult to predict, but don’t be surprised if your favorite web sites disappear or radically change in the months ahead.

Updating Ariane: Poser vs DAZ Studio Again

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Over the past month, I have been debating on updating Ariane for her next game. The above was an early draft which I am NOT going to use as I will explain.

Like many in the 3D People Rendering Community, I am still torn between the Poser vs Daz Studio rift, which I previously catalogued here, and here.

The last high quality DAZ figure with full Poser support was Victoria 4, which is now over a decade old.  Ancient by tech standards, and still widely supported with new clothes hair and accessories, because such things still sell well.

But Victoria 4 still has some flaws that make it less desirable to use…boat5
I picked this Victoria 4 image to point out the main flaws: 1.) The armpits are way too high up the arm. 2.) the hip to thigh bend looks unnatural, as does the thigh to shin bend.  Finally, 3.) while there are literally hundreds of skin textures available, most do not support the latest renderers like DAZ’s iRay and Poser’s Superfly.

The DAZ Studio solution is really easy: switch to G3 and G8 based figures (there are no G4 to G7 figures because: “reasons”) which DAZ is more than happy to sell you. Most of my fellow Dating Sim/Visual Novel makers have made the switch fairly successfully.

The Poser solution is not so easy. There are advanced models natively available to Poser, namely Dawn and Dusk by Hivewire3D, Paul and Pauline by Smith Micro that come with Poser 11.1, and Project Evolution by Erogenesis that is even more advanced than G8 as far as versatility goes.

The problem is that there is not a lot of support for these figures. Dawn has a fair amount, and Project Evolution may eventually, especially since it has backward compatibility with V4. But the majority of the support for new figures is not surprisingly for G3 and G8.

It is possible to convert G3 and G8 figures to be used in Poser, instructions can be found here.  But because it is not supported natively, you have to convert every accessory the same way, and that could get time consuming, and the resulting Poser figures are memory hogs.  I briefly considered creating a new Ariane based on Karen 7.

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Attempts to make a Dawn version of Ariane

My initial idea was to try and make an “Ariane” using the Dawn figure. While the Dawn figure on the right has a more realistic body shape and curves, I could never get the face right. No matter what I did, the V4 face on the left is better looking and more realistic.

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The truth is I ran into many of the same issues when I converted V3 Ariane to V4 Ariane, but ultimately V4 Ariane was a major improvement.

This time, I am sticking with V4. The three problems with V4 mentioned above can be addressed by new products: 1.) The shoulders and other model issues can be fixed with “Perfect V4” by XandM,  2.) The bending problems can be fixed with products like “Overhaul for V4” by ironman13.  I used these products extensively to create the graphics update of Date Ariane.

The rendering skins can be updated with a python script “D3D Perfect Skin SSS Lite” which will change a basic skin texture to simulate SSS effects in the Superfly renderer, and as a side bonus, the Superfly renderer renders even faster. (The only flaw is that it shows solid white skin in superfly preview mode, switch to firefly preview mode to see what the textures look like, then switch back to superfly mode before rendering.)

There is still the issue of the body shape looking better in Dawn than V4.  I solved that by using the rarely used Muscle Pack for V4. I originally got the muscle pack to make Wendy the Weightlifter look stronger, but adding a “toned” shape to Ariane at about 40%, I can give her the athletic curves I was looking for.

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Now to create some new content with this improved Ariane…