The year was, oh, perhaps 2009 or so. In the middle of all the excitement about virtual worlds in general and Second Life® in particular, professional 3D designers were raising eyebrows at a new opportunity to sell their content.
A virtual world with a million regular users who were engaged in consuming digital content, specifically, 3D models? And doing so regularly? Half a billion US$ of yearly transactions? Strong DRM in place (what we residents call “the permission system”)? All that just to prettify avatars and put them on poses on top of some virtual furniture? Well, it seemed too good to be true. And there was, indeed, a catch: you had to use Linden Lab’s own application to create content — which was designed having amateur content creators in mind, not professionals.
Professionals, well, used meshes — and had done so for over a decade. They populate marketplace sites like Renderosity, DAZ3D, BlendSwap, and who knows what else; doing business selling COLLADA files (or at least Wavefront OBJs… or Blender files… or whatever was popular at the time as a file format). They used Maya, 3DS Max, Blender — professional content creation tools. They had graphic pipelines fine-tuned for their own work — design once, deploy everywhere. Well, everywhere except Second Life, because SL had no way to use their creations: you had to do everything from scratch.
A few naturally went that way, and prospered. But the rest of the professional 3D content creation world stayed away. And, ironically, as the media started to lose interest in SL, Linden Lab spread rumours that mesh import would be available as an option in the near future.