Blizzard's RPGs have, over the years, provided a considerable amount of entertainment for those who like to "min-max" their characters. Working out the most efficient skill build for various character classes in the Diablo series and World of Warcraft is a time-consuming occupation for many players, and Blizzard know this all too well.
In keeping with this tradition and to aid the process, Blizzard has released a Skill Calculator for Diablo 3, allowing dedicated players to determine their favorite builds and share them with fellow enthusiasts online. Players can pick between Diablo 3's five available character classes and then fill the skill slots with the abilities on offer at various level milestones. They can also examine the effects that equipping various runestones on skills will offer and finally share their build on Twitter or Facebook.
The Skill Calculator may seem pointless to those not thoroughly invested in the strategy of creating optimized character builds, but it does offer an interesting preview of how character progression in Diablo 3 will work. Rather than offering a selection of skill trees for characters to advance through as they gain levels, players simply gain new active skill slots at levels 1, 6, 12, 18 and 24 and passive skills at levels 10, 20 and 30.
Active skills are divided into several "schools" but do not have prerequisite skills like in Diablo 2's skill tree system. Individual skills do, however, have minimum level requirements that don't always match the skill slots, suggesting that just because a player has unlocked a skill slot they won't necessarily have something with which to fill it.
Active skills can also be socketed with runestones, of which there are five. This may not sound like many, but each runestone has a different effect depending on which skill it is attached to, so the actual range of abilities and bonus effects on offer is significantly larger than it may appear at first.
Oddly, the skill calculator only appears to cover skills that go up to level 30, while the level cap in Diablo 3 is 60. Do players simply stop acquiring new skills after level 30, or is Blizzard still holding something back? The page claims that the figures presented in skill descriptions are based on a level 60 character with rank 7 runestones -- essentially a "best case scenario" estimate.
Try out the Skill Calculator for yourself on the Battle.net website.