MODDING: - Modding since 2003 including Quake, Q2, HL, HL2. Singleplayer mapping, character skins and level textures - 3D Modeling since 2003 including Lightworks, 3ds max, Blender, mostly organic (character/vegetation) modeling and furniture - Photoshop experience since 2003 and still use it every day in my work
PROGRAMMING: - C basics (Visual basic, various applications from mIRC scripts to algorithmic architecture, including some simple HL2 code editing) - python basics including Ubuntu scripting and Blender GE scripts (mouseaim, dynamic WoW-style camera, turn-based combat, etc)
MUSIC: - playing and performing piano/keyboards, guitar and drums - digital music composing using e.g. Guitar Pro, Fruity Loops
GAME PROTOTYPES BY ME (unreleased): - 3D Lolo-type puzzle game with horror theme - 3D Co-op RPG with turn-based combat - RE style game - 3D nature theme puzzle game
OTHER LIFE: - Student of architecture since 2007 - Architect works since 2011 - Beautiful baby girl and wife :)
Are 3D modelers generally good free hand artists also
Yes. But I don't see why they had to be. Modeling is completely different from drawing, painting or sculpting something in real life. Modeling requires many kinds of additional skills of an artists that wishes to learn it. You could be a godlike modeler having never held a pen or paint brush.
Why in practice many 3D artists are also good with 2D and traditional art? Because they are interested in designing and recreating shapes and outside virtual environments pen and paper or sculpting are the ways to do that.
In practice for modeler it is also common to do some of the design and texturing in addition to the modeling the shape and often that is a job where artistic eye and 2D skillset becomes handy.
is modeling more something you can learn?
Yes. You can definitely learn modeling whether you can draw or not. In fact pure hard surface modeling (buildings, machines, etc) doesn't really require any freehand skills, you can just extrude the shapes using purely numerical entry or blueprints.
Portal for instance might be one of a few FPS games with a theme which perfectly explains why your interactivity with its world is limited.
Because Portal's game world where the player completed puzzles was in fact made to be just that: an artificial environment where the subject completes tasks that test thinking and timing. The AI could very well be talking directly to the player instead of the player character. Portal eliminated the need for real world environment by making their game about imprisonment and cruel experiment where the environment was built specifically for the testing purposes.
Another such example would be Tranquillity Lane from Fallout 3 that is a virtual world where people were being trapped. The player character knows it's not real so in this limited cases there's no room for immersion in terms of assessing the plausibility.
While these are nice examples of how some games with unique starting points were made quite plausible not every game can be about forced experiment, oppression and imprisonment to justify obviously limited environment. In a game where you want to involve realism, adventure or free will / open world themes it's impossible to find a comparable plausible explanation for the limitations in game world such as absolute boundaries the player is contained within that the he eventually bounces against.
Because the criteria for plausibility is not simply "imprisonment" like in Portal's case, but something much more complex. "There are no toilets in these shopping centers". "Nobody would want to live there next to motorway." "Where does the mailman deliver the mail in this city block?". "There's not nearly enough parking space in the city." "The cars never stop driving." As the game developers seek to emulate a city or other set that is involved with huge amount of people going through it in various roles it's bound to be incomplete and unrealistic when the viewer gets critical enough.
Portal was ingenious in many aspects but I wouldn't have all games try to find a reason for the unavoidable limitations in game design. I value the illusion and rather play games where I think I have a huge amount of choice than games that were reduced to environment that directly states there's only one thing for the player to do (as there mostly actually is).
Ok sounds good, as long as you know game design and game programming are two entirely different areas in professional game development and that as a programmer you very rarely get to work on your own ideas of games or features.