You'll never have a character who's great at alchemy but not at anything else (if you actually want that or not is entirely up to personal taste I guess). This is also implying that I'm a bit jaded about "combat skills"; I don't expect those to demand much skill/ thought to choose.
Yeah, I get that. I think they just want to make sure that you're not restricted to having a character who's all but useless in combat just because you wanted to fully explore alchemy. Alchemy and combat can co-exist peacefully in the game, so they want characters to be able to be viable at both. The point limitations for 2 pools can still be balanced enough to make sure you can't be a master alchemist AND swordsman AND bowman AND nimble, stealthy lockpicker AND enchanter... etc. Fully pursuing alchemy shouldn't inherently prevent you from holding your own in combat. At the very least, your masterful skill in Alchemy should allow that character to perform extra, supportive actions and/or use potions and mixtures more effectively in combat. You don't want him so restricted that he becomes an Alchemy vendor who happens to travel around with you, is all.
I know what you mean about player's taste, and if you want to build a character like that, you probably can. I fully understand wanting to, also, even if I most likely wouldn't do so.
If all points come from the same pool and i.e. alchemy is a costly skill, that would require it to be just as powerful (or even more powerful, depending on cost) as any combat skill as it would be in direct competition with those; something that is very rarely seen for non-combat options in CRPGs as you'll probably agree.
That's true. I mean, if it wasn't, then that design would be lopsided (the points would have different values depending on what you spent them on... kind of like a sword and a twig both costing 100 gold.) But, think of it this way. In a system in which all the points are in one pool, imagine you gain 10 skill points per level. Let's assume that whatever other mechanics and factors are in your RPG, this point value is perfectly balanced. Now, suppose you simply cut them in half, and say "you can only spend 5 of these on combat skills, and 5 on non-combat skills." If you just left it completely as-is after simply splitting them, then yes... you'd have some issues, because the effectiveness of the skills would already have been balanced against the single pool of points (there'd be a much different relationship between the number of points spent in combat skills versus the number of points spent in non-combat skills.) But, with the split, the effectiveness of the spent points in each category will be rebalanced accordingly.
What I'm hoping for in P:E is that
a) skills are derived from stats. So maybe a high INT character would be best suited to be an alchemist, thereby reducing your choice for the best possible alchemist to a wizard or cipher. So alchemy wouldn't be something you'd rely heavily on if your party concept calls for a different class to fill that slot.
b) non-combat skill points are few (thereby again enforcing choice) but this is also related to
c) there will be enough viable choices in skills so that you can't have all bases covered with 6 characters.
Sawyer's statements regarding how dialogue will be handled suggest he wants stats to play a significant part in things (A), including non-dialogue skills. To exactly what degree, only time will tell. I don't know about "derived from" though. I think it'll be more that INT, for example, will provide a bonus to the effectiveness of the usage of an INT-based skill, rather than to its level. I.e. it might be easier to brew potions, or require fewer ingredients because your INT is ultra-high, but I'm not so sure about anything like a skill level cap based on stat values. I think they want the only restriction to be "You can only be 100% at so many things," in lieu of the typical "you can be pretty good at some things, but only a different class can be REALLY good at non-combat skills available to any class."
(B) and © seem to be addressed by the same thing. I think there'll most likely be more than 6 non-combat skills, and the points will be balanced by the maximum number of points that can be obtained in the game. It probably won't be possible to max out on multiple non-combat skills. There might even be something along the lines of caps once you max one out (the same thing could be true of combat skills), so that a 2nd one can only be raised to 60% or-so, and, after, a third to 30%, etc. You could still spread them out in such a system, assuming minor benefits could be gained from a variety of lower skills, but perhaps only 15% per skill if you spread them across every single one (just for example numbers).
Well that's something I really hope won't happen (often). It's the infamous "you read book. Gain +2 tracking skill points!" thing I dread.
Heh, I'm with you on that one. Such implementations might have been pushing the bounds of code complexity 18 years ago, but we can definitely do better nowadays (if it's decided to issue them separately in any instances.)