I'd like to see if we can get some good rules of thumb of balancing skills. Probably the best way to do this is looking at some of the more balanced skills and see if can't get some guidelines from them.
For single target damage, Ice Shards seems to be the pretty good baseline. That's 60-83 (ave. 72 dmg) damage + 1.5 s of 15% slow for 43 mana and 12 skill points. That seems a bit weak, coming in at about half the base damage of high end staves, but it may be balanced around Torrent which can potentially boost the damage up to around 360 for an extra 38 mana and a total of 20 skill points.
Lightning Bolt seems close to that in power and it works out to 178-363 (ave 271) in a small area (1.6 m radius) for a whopping 168 mana and 12 skill points. It's more of a blast than the staves, but can be used less often for a lower overall dps.
So roughly how much elemental should players expect per skill point. It actually looks like the intended balance may be around 6 dmg / point for rapid fire and 23 / point for slower strikes.
Re: Benchmark Skills
Have you tried Ice Shards? It does TONS of damage, bosses in normal die so fast when you max the whole tree. The damage potential is way higher than what your stave can do.
I'm not sure if all skills should be adjusted to some damage/skill point ratio. The skills have other effects like stun, how do you rate that?
Re: Benchmark Skills
Yes, Ice Shard can do a lot of damage when the whole tree is maxed. I was just talking about the basic Ice Shards skill. Each of those shards does less than a high end staff if you don't have the supporting synergies. With those synergies, the damage jumps through the roof. So maybe it's better to look at the whole tree when making these comparisons.
The whole damage/point thing should be more about effectiveness than just damage. The idea is that if that the system is balanced X points in one skill line should be roughly as valuable as spending a similiar amount of points elsewhere. Having strong status effects like thunderball and the envenom line should definately be factored in.
From what I've head about the elemental attacks, Volcanic Orb, Lightning Bolt, Ice Shards, and Eruption seems to be pretty well balanced with Flame Surge being on the low end and Distortion Wave on the high end. Does that seem about right?
I admit I've got a little secondary motive. I've been looking at playing around with some custom skills. Having some guidelines seems like it would help with these kind of mods.