(Split off from previous entry, because that was already WAY too long. Also more opinions on stuff I know nothing about, so ignore at will. TL;DR version is, again, the first two paragraphs, minus the first couple lines.)Ysabeau.
... OK, then. Apparently Excessively Arthurian is the current concept mode.
I wonder if the UV maps portion of the DAZ business is working quite as intended. I don't see how it can possibly be doing so.
Almost every month, DAZ releases a new humanoid base figure. Each of those base figures has its own UV map. In general, there seems to be no technical or artistic reason for the variation in UVs in the Realistic group. And the business reason -- to make people purchase the base figure to use the textures that DAZ and other artists may produce -- is absolutely not working.
It's not clear how much of the pushback is coming from customers vs what's coming from vendors, but for once, they do seem to be in agreement (even if they haven't quite noticed). There are, I think, 15 separate female UV maps for Genesis 2, and six male UV maps. However, in terms of UVs that artists actually use for most characters, the only ones that seem to have any traction are Base Male, Base Female, Victoria 6 and Michael 6. Leaving aside the DAZ-produced textures offered on or about the time of first sale of a new base figure, and a very few PA offerings from the same time periods, I only know of one character that used the associated (non Base M/F, non M6, non V6) base figure's UVs, and that artist has stated, more than once, that it was a mistake they won't make again. (This is not to say that other artists haven't used those UVs, just that I only know about that one.)
This plethora of UVs led, at least at first, to a great deal of confusion. Until Genesis 2, for the most part, DAZ and vendors had matched UVs to the underlying character base. With Genesis 2 and the introduction of Base Male and Base Female, it was possible to have shapes and UV maps that had nothing to do with each other. However, this being a new(ish -- it actually happened with original flavor Genesis, but rarely) and little publicized development, it naturally led to user confusion (and really impressive surliness -- somewhat warranted, for once). It also seems to have led vendors to, for the most part, clearly labeling the UVs in use for their products in the product description ... which also led users to realize that they didn't need the underlying figure if they only wanted the texture and the very general look of the character.
(Purely a side note: Darius, Monique, Cassie, Cory and Ninive haven't yet made it onto the DAZ Compatibility Matrix page. They've been releasing figures so fast, they haven't been able to keep it updated.)
Most artists seem to be working somewhat at cross purposes to DAZ, at least with regard to the UVs. They build characters with custom scupted heads and with bodies that can usually work, if not entirely as planned, without the underlying figure. Textures are built on the most common UVs so that people who like the look but don't own the base figure can still buy the product and get something in the vague vicinity of what the producer intended. Maximizes vendor income, of course -- and slightly less directly, DAZ income, since it's a brokered sale that otherwise wouldn't happen at all -- but it absolutely cannot be the way DAZ intended things to work when they created this peculiar system. Otherwise, there would be no need to create the new UVs at all ... as, indeed, there is not.
Most published artists' realistic human characters in the current generation have been built around the Michael or Victoria base shapes, with one of the top four texture UVs. Gianni, Olympia and Lilith have a small number of characters using their shapes as well -- although generally not their UVs. I can't offer a reasonable opinion on the Victorias -- I don't have enough of them -- but I'd guess that only about half the characters based on Michael 6 actually use his UVs, and the rest use Base Male UV -- including a few in the Michael 6 pro bundle, surprisingly enough.
The one true exception to this rule in the Realistic group seems to be Gia, who seems to have been an oddity in several ways. I think, but am not certain, that every texture for characters based on Gia uses Gia UVs, whether DAZ-produced or PA-produced. She may be the only character in the current generation, realistic or stylized, about which that can be said. Unfortunately, this probably didn't help her at all.
Releasing a new base figure every month is removing the need -- and indeed, the ability -- for vendors to support different UVs, and may be robbing the stylized figures (the toons, Aiko, Keiko) of some vendor support. If you're a published artist vendor, releasing a new character based on a new figure every month, it makes more sense for your workflow to use one UV map -- and considerably more sense for your income. If there's no technical reason to use one of the other UVs, why bother?
On the other hand, the stylized figures, at least, could actually use textures with their UVs. For example, The Girl and Aiko have larger heads and somewhat unusually shaped chests that can stretch some textures. Their dedicated UVs were designed to address that. But if vendors wind up turning to the new girl each and every month, what incentive do they have to support those UVs at all? What incentive do they have to develop anything for older character bases? However, that said, even 3D Universe, which had different UVs for each of their toon figures in original flavor Genesis, has moved to Base Female for the current G2F-based releases, so maybe something changed in the transition that allows Base Female UV to cope with more extreme shapes better than the V4/V5 UVs in Genesis did.
Highly specialized characters frequently have their own UVs, and that's probably not going to change. But at least for their humanoid figures, it does seem that it's time for DAZ to take a good hard look at their UV mix and figure out what actually works in their current business model. Whatever it is/will be, it's certainly not this mess.