Okay, so I pretty much forgot about this until I got an email about the logarithms article. And I realize there’s not a lot to say that hasn’t been said already… or, at least, not a lot for me to say, as a mediocre-at-best game designer :P
So anyway, I’ll just recycle the same stuff I’ve already said.
Diminishing returns are essential to just about any complex game. They can give a more realistic feel to a game, such as modeling human learning or supply and demand economics. They can bring a level of balance into a game with almost no effort. And if nothing else, they add a level of mystery to the game.
In some situations, it’s better to choose the wrong diminishing returns formula than to not have one in your game at all. Look at bloodsport colosseum’s fame system, for instance – it just goes up forever, and is almost entirely meaningless once it breaks about 1000. I think any of the formulae I’ve discussed here would have been a dramatic improvement over that system.
Diminishing returns articles on Nerdbucket: