Titan Quest Designer Diary #5

GameSpot has posted their fifth designer diary for Titan Quest, this time with lead gameplay designer Arthur Bruno telling us about the game's intricate skill system. A snippet, as usual:
I think the most innovative aspect of the system is the way that you unlock higher-level skills. Instead of having to reach a certain character level to unlock the next tier of skills, you have some control over the pace at which you unlock your masteries. At each character level, you earn three skill points, which you can either place in a mastery to advance it and unlock additional skills, or increase the power of the skills that you've already unlocked. This adds another level of strategic thinking to character development, because there is an ideal balance somewhere between dumping all your points into Tier 1 skills or, conversely, dumping all your points in a mastery to unlock the Tier 6 skills as soon as possible. This balance is achieved because the effectiveness of later skills is built upon the power of your early skills. This aspect of the skill system hits upon one of the major things we've done in an attempt to improve upon older role-playing skill systems. We've made a great effort to ensure that even your Tier 1 skills are useful throughout the game. There are three ways in which we have done this: We've designed skills that are part of a family in which later skills are modifiers of the first; skills whose properties never become obsolete because they're universally effective; and skills that are indirectly boosted by other skills.