Well, the source engine has a reputation of not supporting specular maps very well. And that env_cubemap thing looks horrible. It just looks a bit brighter and reflects the HDRI in the map if there is one. And, it basically makes things look better. That's why you see texture artists painting light onto their textures because they know the source engine doesn't support specular maps very well. Or, they could just be painting lighting mainly because they don't know shit about phong. Or, they may not even like the way source engine does with specular so they stick to painting light.
If you have someone good at phong, you can surely try out specular maps but they don't always turn out perfect either. You can make your diffuse extra dark and specular really bright and when you put it into source it can look seriously shit.
I used to paint lighting since I didn't know shit about phong and it is now "old-gen". It used to be the main thing back then. Now it's all next-gen and with all these new games coming out which do support specular maps and such, you can then put your stuff into those games.
Speaking of games coming out soon, there's CS:GO which DOES run on the source engine but whatever they've done it (god knows) it's much better at handling specular maps compared to any other source game (except maybe L4D2). I have the beta and the textures are shit and so are the specular maps yet it looks nice. (fuck logic.)
I do think people should use next-gen texturing (using specular maps) as it can be used later on in the future. Old work which has painted static lighting, in some new game with phong can look shit since it'd be too bright.
Another reason why people don't go for next-gen texturing is mainly because they don't know how to do it. I, to be honest, used no tutorials at all when I started texturing dynamically (except tips of course) and the results aren't as bad as they seem. Although next-gen texturing can be considered much harder, it's much faster. There are NO TUTORIALS at all on next-gen texturing on this site. Which is why amateurs don't know the method on how to texture and they stick to making shitty overlays and ruining the reputation of the site.
So, basically, people don't do next-gen texturing because they don't know how to essentially.
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