Boundless: Self-Inflicted Difficulty Curve

Here we go… doing it to myself again…

Folks who are bored with the traditional endgame of fixed developer difficulties should try a sandbox. (Or at least, playing in a sandbox manner.)

There’s no one like yourself to put the next goal just beyond your grasp.

I thought I was done with building for at least the near future, after getting a nice functional home base setup.

It took barely an hour of sitting in my house, pacing the factory floor, processing trash.

(Aka rock of colors I don’t want and can’t sell. These can be crafted for xp into more refined variants, and then thrown into the Boundless version of a recycling trash can – a chrysominter, which gobbles it up and returns a small pittance in coin. Far more profitable to sell it to players, if they’re offering, but if they’re not, and you don’t want to spare the storage space to hoard them, then well, it’s better than nothing.)

I could go out and gather. I could go out and explore. I could go out and mine. I could come back and sell all these base raw products to other players and buy the advanced processed goods I needed. No problem. It’s a basic loop that has worked so far and netted me a small but steadily increasing wallet of coins. A richer player with millions of coins thinks nothing of overpaying slightly for something in the thousands or tens of thousands. Orders of magnitude and all that.

Thing is, I don’t want to stay at that level forever.

Simple curiosity demanded I go check out the more complex systems in Boundless, while paranoid caution warned to be careful of elder game systems that encouraged over-consumption of resources for RNG gains. Veteran players can flush large amounts of resources down the toilet; I cannot.

There were a few systems I eyed.

Goo for paint appears to be the ultimate endgame player’s hobby. Goo kernel seeds are found on exo-planets, each a different color depending on the rock it grew on. So there is scarcity due to the limited time exo-planets appear, and hundreds of colors to collect. Then they are farmed for the goo itself, and the seed can only be maximized to about 90% return, so it is ever so slowly not sustainable. Goo colors can be changed by growing them on gleam (more experimentation, more potential kernel loss) and finally, they can get processed by some arcane means into paint spray, possibly requiring a mixture of goo colors. Add onto that, storage systems to accommodate up to 255 colors… and that’s… certainly the Boundless equivalent of golf – a rich person’s hobby.

So that was out. Learning about the centraforge system was extremely enticing. Being able to craft my own AoE and other special tools would wean me off the player market exceedingly quickly and bootstrap me into self-sufficiency.

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I gave it a fair start, reading guides (in and out of game), playing with a website simulator, but quickly realized that I was struggling with even remember the -names- of the ingredients, let alone what they do.

Mind you, there are 66 of them (if I counted correctly, plus minus 1 or 2), and even if you group them by function, there’s over 30 different things, some with 1-3 grades. One might not always want to use the highest grade ingredient either, since that costs the most to manufacture…

Also, my crafter alt was nowhere near the maximum stats required to run the centraforge at any level of acceptable effectiveness.

Definitely a long term project. Possibly a slightly easier goal might just be to -make- a batch of each ingredient and start with the most used items first, maybe for the most simple sort of enchantment. It was a possibility.

Another possibility was to just work on crafting food and brew (potion) consumables. That was a more tame prospect that didn’t involve attempting to decode 66 sub-components. Any consumables I could produce would definitely help my progress in gathering, mining, hunting, so that was another plus.

Thing is, all the foodstuffs relied quite heavily on farmed crops as the ingredients. (Which, logically, makes sense.)

*sigh*

Obviously, a dinky little art decorative plot was not going to cut it for the quantity I would need for mass production.

New goal: I guess I need a functional farm.

So I went to Farm School.

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No, seriously, there is a player-created place in-game where optimal arrangements of blocks are demonstrated, so as to best maximize seed, or maximize crop or sustain seeds with as good a crop yield as possible.

Because naturally, each crop has its own fussy needs about what it likes to be near, and what it doesn’t like to have near.

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Starberries need air gaps, for instance. Something which I completely ignored in my little starberry shed and realized yields were dropping as a result.

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Rice likes water, and apparently, one can make an inspired water tap system with some water blocks and a trapdoor that a player can open or close to turn the water on or off.

(Mind you, picking up the water blocks in the first place requires a liquid-breaker, and that’s a centraforged object, so there’s another tool to keep an eye out for in the shops to see who sells one the cheapest.)

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Other things need to be grown underground, by gleamlight.

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And everything can be expanded to… infinity and beyond.

(But in 3×3 blocks, so that it’s easier for an AoE tool when it comes time to harvest.)

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Starbarries are just a little weird though, and the rice… well, now that’s just gloriously excessive.

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It’s one of those Minecraft pyramidal branching water systems. I think folks have done 2D versions in Terrarria too.

It didn’t take long after my visit to Farm School to drastically reduce the scope of my “have a functional farm” desire.

New revised goal: -Experiment- with small farm plots that might be extended later, plot by plot, if I ever need larger crop quantities. Just successfully get efficient, self-sustaining 3×3 crops going.

Before I knew it, I was building boxes in Minecraft Creative mode again and prototyping.

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And because I cannot let well enough alone, I decided to give the farm layout a light dwarven hall flavor because the thought of an underground dwarf farm somehow pleases me.

(Also, Boundless has a vast quantity of farmable silk yellow gleam, which is treated as close to trash by established players, due to its utter commonality.

Me, I find it looks very close to metallic gold, so it should be an interesting design challenge to see if I can make something look good with cheap raw materials. I like doing that sort of thing – even in GW2, I prefer well color-coordinated cheap dyes, over the rich person’s aesthetic of pile-on-as-many-expensive-neon-eyesearing colors as possible.)  

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It had to be simple, because I’d never done any decorating like this before. Ever. (Even in Minecraft, I usually just dig rectangular boxes, and maybe put up some circular columns and call it done.)

And there was a space-saving issue where the majority of the floor space would be needed for actual crop growing… but I could spare a one-block perimeter for decor.

Mind you, to recreate this in Boundless means I would have to figure out how to chisel, yet another system to work on.

Back over in Boundless, I selected the hillside I was going to tunnel into, and got to work.

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It shortly became apparent that this was going to be a LONG project.

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Even hollowing out the first floor took forever.

I briefly entertained the thought of doing like the vets and using bombs to mine out the area. The downside is that you keep none of the broken rock and metal, and there is the possibility of collateral damage.

Not only is this about 8 blocks away from one wall of my main home base, I kinda wanted to keep the top of the hillside preserved, without waiting for it to world regen back slowly if I bombed it back to the Stone Age, AND I was greedy and wanted to keep the dug-out materials. So diggy diggy hole it was going to be.

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A LOT of diggy diggy hole.

My eyes were bleeding at trying to discern the default plot boundary color – which was grey, possibly due to the default skin color of the character I was using – so I flipped it to a more obvious contrasting green.

I suspect I eventually want to go three plots down to start with, so as to create two spacious floors. (The problem with the dwarf aesthetic is that dwarves like to build tall. Even so, this would be pretty compact for a dwarf. Real dwarves build those towering cathedral structures in a previous post, but I’m not going anywhere near a project like that.)

One thing I’m trying to do is build in an extra safety block layer (the floor of silk yellow gleam below.)

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One has idly read too many horror stories on the Boundless forums of some guy revamping their farm and digging up a few floor blocks, only to later realize that they’ve dumped lava all over their floor below, which promptly ate up anything stored in flammable containers. 

Besides the obvious safety angle of not using flammable containers, and certainly not putting storage directly under farm plots that are going to hold lava, I am thinking to have this bright yellow layer as sacrosanct and untouchable. I’ll put a layer of floor on top of it, and a layer of ceiling under it. So that should hopefully catch any potentially pooling lava.

(Of course, if I ever get to the stage of such high stats and advanced tools where holding down left click several milliseconds too long means I dig through three blocks in a flash, then I’m screwed and better not have anything valuable underneath the floor.)

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Basic flooring going in. It’s all temporary. This is cheap rock turned into stones. I’m eventually entertaining the idea of stone brick, but that requires a herculean mass crafting and processing time, so prototype first and decorate later.

I’m trying not to think about the two-deep plots I still have to hollow out below. Part of the complexity is that there’s a cave system directly underneath, which means irregular surfaces and extra deep holes to accidentally fall into, while trying to dig out rock and sand/gravel (both requiring different tools, a hammer and a shovel respectively) to create regular boxy rectangles and mark the full extent of my plotted area.

Work on this is going to be extremely sporadic. Boundless just launched a two-week event known as Gleambow racing.

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In this event, rainbow colored meteors streak across and fall from the sky.

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Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to rush up to the fallen meteors before their timer runs out. The meteors are comprised of various types of blocks – foliage, rock, sponge, mould, glass and the most valuable and desirable gleam, and come in colors that do not naturally occur on planets. Nothing like artificial scarcity to induce greed.

Smash enough of the meteor with a special gleambow totem before the time runs out, and you complete the meteor and get normal meteorite rewards as well as all the special colored blocks.

Interrupting you are special mobs, gleamtrunks, that vacuum you up into the air, and then drop you, inflicting fall damage. Kill those, and you get rainbow colored sacs, which are new this time around, and extremely desired by veteran players, going for >1200 coins. Yep, just one of those can pay for an advanced power coil.

Mind you, there are plenty of veteran players with much more banked stat points and the freedom to create a new specialized skill page for the purposes of chasing rainbow meteors (full top speed, fall damage protection, ability to double jump and bound two blocks of height, etc.) and rich enough to buy/make/use all the special bonus consumables that give abilities like dashing across water on trails of rainbow ice.

So yeah, if it’s a race between them and you, it’s… not even a contest.

Fortunately, I am not at all competitive, and am pretty damned happy to chase after leavings if I have to. The completed meteor reward is per player, so I can at least get rough oortstones worth 300 coins each, from veteran player completed meteors. This gets promptly sold back to said veteran players because, hey, I don’t run any portals, so I don’t need them. Mwahaha.

The additional bonus is my timezone, which is staggered 12 hours off from NA players and not quite peak times for EU players. There’s some shared time with Aussie players, but well, SEA/Oceanic has never been as populated in any game anyway.

So there have been times when it is easy to spread out across a planet and find empty places with no other players around, when one can peacefully attempt soloing a meteor without having another player whiz by.

The devs have also apparently built in some over-competitive protections since the last time the event ran. Apparently. Folks who over-complete too many meteors too fast apparently have timers shortened to the extent where they have zero chance catching up with a meteor (aka 5 second timers.) This may or may not be a bug, but it does have the effect of encouraging them to stop chasing meteors until it wears off, or deliberately not-complete and lose some meteors, or at least switch to an alt.

Folks who lose more meteors than they complete end up with longer timers, so there is more time to run to the meteor. Seeing as I’m squarely in the latter category, this is comfortably producing 1-1.5 minute timers for me, and I might still get there with only 20 seconds left on the clock, or lose it completely.

The rainbow-colored gleambow sac items are new as well. It reminds me a little of an A Tale in the Desert sociological experiment. The best way to get more sacs is to deliberately lose the meteor so that there is more time for more sac-dropping mobs to spawn in. Or at least, only complete it in the last few seconds. Can you trust others to share the same desire, or will they just dash in and nab all the shiny colored blocks for themselves?

The other way to get enormous quantities of sacs is to do a group hunt similar to the regular meteors. Gather a large group of people to spawn high level meteors, and the rewards and quantity of mobs scale. With so many people in one place, can you trust that everyone will cooperate, or is there going to be a defector who can’t stop themselves and will go for the shiny ASAP?

It’s only been about two or three days. The event lasts two weeks. It’s going to be interesting to observe how the community evolves over this time. Even the masses in GW2 can learn stuff observably in the space of two weeks. Boundless is a much smaller sandbox with more known names, so it should be interesting to watch.

So far, it’s been groups of veterans traveling in friend groups, and some loose soloists criss-crossing paths, and some advertised group hunts (which I’ve not attended, so no idea how they went – probably very well, to the extent that timers screwed some characters over).

In the meantime, I’ve been scavenging by my lonesome and have picked up small enough quantities to keep a little for myself and dump some on those willing to pay premiums to avoid the whole rushing around angle. S’not been too terrible. 

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First day personal trophy. One Bright lime gleam I somehow managed to swipe from a meteor with a single target attack, before a veteran player swooped up and nabbed the rest with AoE. Oorty doll statue made from gleambow sacs and not-exactly-black-gleam but night green gleam from a recent exo-planet. (But hey, from afar, it’s pretty danged dark. And anything green matches with my home base color scheme.) 

Boundless: Home Upgrades

As predicted, it took the better part of the weekend and some of the following week, but the home base build is over.

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For now.

As -not- predicted, but not completely unexpected, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

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The initial L-shaped space-saving configuration had to be re-adapted when I discovered some of the power coils would not agree to be placed so close to the protruding machine block.

Cue the long sigh when I realized there was a reason why veteran Boundless players put their machines in straight 4×1 row, either horizontally or vertically.

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So now I either lived with my machines sticking out by 1 block, narrowing the comfortable 3 block corridor space into a claustrophobic squeeze…

…or I re-did the room configuration, hammering down all placed machines, wires (spark links) and blocks.

Fueled by an excess of optimism and desire for future proofing, I decided to re-do.

Readers with a little more forward thinking might have realized the problem I ran headlong into ten minutes later, after having ripped up all the blocks.

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Yeah, insufficient floor space. Making each machine now 4 blocks long, instead of 3 blocks long, meant extending the width of the -entire- building by at least 6 blocks.

Cue a little half-scream, half-resigned sigh; one character switch to the crafter alt to buy more plots with (thankfully) sufficient free cubits, and several hours of hammering down one entire wall, flattening the ground of the new plots, scrounging around for more colored building blocks and extending floor, ceiling, wall and lights.

On the bright side, it is now built to satisfaction.

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I’ve been moving in the advanced power coils slowly and steadily. They currently cost about 975-1000 coin (c) per block, which seems comparatively cheap for the amount of effort and bottleneck to build them for oneself.

In comparison, gem tools for low tier world digging costs 3000-4000c, while high tier worlds range from 6000-9000c. My earning power from modest gathering and selling to fulfill various niches range from 4000-9000c every 1-3 hours.

Call me insane, but I’d much rather go out into the wilderness to cut plants or make diggy diggy holes underground than stare at my storage and inventories and moving things from one square to another and pressing “craft” buttons and waiting for minutes and hours.

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At least I get to see cool things while wandering outdoors. Like this ice FIELD of so much white gleam.

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This is about pushing the limits of my capacity to sort inventories.

Granted, Boundless is -very- good at encouraging a fair amount of willingness to sort inventories.

I am very much an open storage type of person, as opposed to closed storage, so seeing all my stuff arranged in neat colors at the end of the process is quite inspirational.

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I am nowhere near to the obsessive level of more veteran players, as much as I enjoy wandering through their bases to marvel at their extreme organization.

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Very much NOT my base. All metals and metal products in columns. All block colors filed by individual -worlds- in the storage on the left in the background.

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I can more or less follow the same example for metals. Mostly less.

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This is just wild, though. That’s a lot of furnaces to keep running simultaneously. For now, I can get by with processing my stuff sequentially, because I just start it firing and then forget it, having wandered out of base to do other things in the meantime. Also, the closed storage system makes me twitch. I can’t trust there’s -really- iron in there like the sign says, unless i can -see- the iron.

The old home cottage has been converted into a semi-casual garden / starberry vine growing shed.

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It is not at all any optimal farm by any means – there’s plenty of time to learn about farming and for those kinds of layouts later. I just enjoy the overgrown naturalistic look.

In other news, I found a player’s hideaway that also embraces the nature/plant aesthetic to colossal extremes.

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I have no idea how the player finds their way around. It’s a massive structure built into an entire hill. But it certainly looks very pretty.

One of these days, I’d like to steal some of these ideas and do something similar in Minecraft, where my efforts would be more accessible to me (as opposed to saved on someone else’s server.) But man, these are huge builds, and I have no idea how to even get started on something like that. I build hobbit holes in comparison.

 

With the Boundless base completed to the point of functionality, I’ve been trying to feel my way around to other goals.

I did enough exploration mining and leveling up to get skills to the point where I can comfortably access gold, silver and titanium ores. I mass-crafted the first batch of basic titanium tools the other day – at 10 produced each mass craft, they should last me a decent while. That saves 250c a titanium tool (which, imo, is still damn cheap a player price for the amount of time taken.)

I am beginning to worry about gems and gem tools. I am nowhere near the established player efficiency rate for digging out gems. Prices are more than a little depressed as a result, while the effort I have to put in is a lot more significant.

It usually feels a lot easier to just buy the damn tools – but that is dependent on other players’ logging in enough time to produce enough tools to meet demand. (A demand that will no doubt rise as more Humble Bundle Boundless players start to hit that tier, assuming they continue to linger in the game.)

Attaining self-sufficiency would also have to involve mastering the centraforge – aka an extra enchantment system. The system involves a mind-melting amount of ingredients – all of which have to be crafted – and involves some RNG in the process, which also means waste. To top it off, it is best run by a character alt with skills specialized to run it well.

That’s… very much like trying to build a GW2 legendary. A long term project.

In the meantime, it took more than two days and multiple mining trips, but I finally accumulated enough rough diamonds to start my first mass craft.

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From there, one still has to refine the compact diamond into -refined- diamonds, and then produce diamond tools out of them. And they will only be basic diamond tools, which can only mine one block, as contrasted with the 3×3 centraforged ones on sale.

We’ll see. It’s slow going. I’m about level 46, and quite aware that my generalist explorer/miner/gatherer is still too spread out skill-wise to really specialize in mining high tier worlds efficiently.

Once I hit max level of 50, there is the possibility of opening up a new skill page to spread the skills in a more specialist manner, say… explorer/gatherer on one and pro miner on another. But one would still need to level up further to accumulate more skill points. Blech.

I also started a hunter character alt because all the mining without a break was boring me out of my skull. That one as a specialist combat character is fairly promising – managing to solo level 2 meteorites on a Tier 3 world with simply a twinked out diamond slingbow weapon and no extra buffs or healing potion/brews. The world of buff consumables is another thing I have yet to look into. They all seem to involve so much crafting, and crafting in excess amounts to be efficient.

One is beginning to feel the limits of the Boundless sandbox.

Yes, I can still progress along at a slower pace.

Yes, I still want to, and fully intend to spend some time just exploring planets and mapping.

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How else will I encounter bizarrely beautiful sights like this?

It’s not at all profitable by any means, as opposed to farming/gathering/mining chores to sell to other players to earn enough coin to buy stuff I might want.

I -could- choose to take on another self-assigned building project. That is an easy path to lots of sub-goals, but the end product may not yield as much return as choosing other opportunities.

The activities are going to be similar to what I’ve already done, perhaps in different surroundings, at different paces. How much repetition I want to indulge in, and at what frequency, is up to me and is likely going to slow and plateau from the initial beginner craze.

Also, Warframe Nightwave season 3 apparently just launched last week, so I might be a week behind on that front and may need to put some time into -that- as well.

Meanwhile, the streamers are all going nuts on Terraria latest and last update Journey’s End. There’s another building sandbox. This one personal to boot. I’m just pretending it doesn’t exist in my known world yet.

 

-Not- Not Playing Boundless…

…aka the one where I wind up down the slippery slope of “how did I do this to myself again?!”

Regular readers will recall that I am not a builder by nature, and have no intention of constructing anything even remotely similar to the player monuments I have been happily screenshotting, perfectly content to admire from afar.

I was going to keep my home base / camp as small as possible, and keep it mostly functional. Square rectangular box? Underground hidey hobbit hole? No problem.

Except there was one itty bitty little issue.

The next upgrade to the functional machines that I was idly considering slowly accumulating as an incremental long term goal simply wouldn’t fit.

The next step in crafting progression are power coils and advanced power coils. Given the current prices in player shops and the ability of veteran players to leapfrog past new player bottlenecks, I was giving serious thought to just buying the advanced power coils slowly, one at a time, off said player shops.

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Power coils (and the advanced version) are blocks that need to have a 1 block air gap between them and the machine they are powering. They then shoot a little colored laser beam at the machine they’re affecting.

The machines themselves comprise of 4 blocks, which can be arranged in any fashion, as long as they connect.

Up to 24 power coils can be connected to one machine. The machine also needs to be powered by an electrical wire equivalent – spark cable lines that will eventually connect to a spark generator.

I am not terribly good at this sort of spatial math.

I watched a Youtube video of some suggested Power Coil Placement ideas. I looked at screenshots I had taken of other players’ bases to see how they did it.

I wasn’t quite convinced about the top/down placement in the screenshots. It seems there were much less than 24 coils, and not much room for future expansion if needed.

I tried drawing some layouts on paper, only to realize that I’m not great at drawing squares, and keeping track of things in three-dimensions on a two-dimensional sheet? Forget it.

Now…where else could I actually build things in three dimensions, and mutter to myself while basically sketching out a prototype?

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Yep, Minecraft Creative Mode. Super flat world. Wound up near a village and a ton of bored green slimes.

I’d just grabbed the nearest modpack I had already installed, that might conceivably contain similar-ish blocks. It just happened to be Stoneblock, which has a number of tech mods included.

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The four blue workbenches simulate the Boundless “machine,” which I crinked up into an “L” shape.

The T shaped dynamos surrounding it are the future “power coils,” in a 2×3 arrangement on all four sides, that should be 24 quite handily.

Instead of burying the “spark line” or sticking it on the ceiling (Boundless, unfortunately, lacks modded Minecraft covers or facades to hide wiring), I put it low to the ground at the back of the machine. I figure this will create a little 1 block crawlspace behind each machine, where I can hop over the spark lines, in case I ever need to access the back of any machine.

Of course, I couldn’t stop at one. I had to figure out how each machine group of blocks would fit together, both for easy access and for expansion if needed.

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Leaving two blocks of space created too claustrophobic a corridor, so I tried three blocks of space in between and that seemed a good enough compromise.

I didn’t want to make massive builds in Boundless, after all, and each 8 x 8 plot of land in Boundless has to be bought with cubits (which, granted, a large quantity of are generously given free to each character, enough to build -massive- constructions, as we’ve all seen in past screenshots.)

And why stop there? Now I had to figure out just how many corridors of two row machines I might need, in order to accommodate multiples for industrial factory processing.

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Presumably, the corridors can also be extended down the end, or I could build a new floor on top of the old one when it becomes necessary.

(It would just be really annoying if I had to climb up and down multiple stairs when I make stuff, so I eventually need to position the correct machines next to each other.)

Finally, I decided an array of 12 machine groups should be enough for now. It would probably take forever to earn enough for so many power coils anyway.

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So how big a base was I going to need to fit this entire contraption in? Enter lots of block counting measurements and the convenient Minecraft sign to help me keep track of numbers.

Theoretically, the whole thing would fit in a space 33 blocks long by 14 blocks wide or thereabouts, and about 5 blocks high. Each Boundless plot is 8 x 8 x 8 though.

The ceiling was no problem. A 16 block wide building would make things awfully cramped and leave no room for other storage or decorations, so 24 block wide it would be, or three plots. As for the length, well, 32 was a nice number, but I didn’t want to lose any wiring or symmetry, so heck, 40 blocks or 5 plots long it will be.

Wow. Starting from a dinky little 2 x 2 plot base, I’d now be sticking an additional 3 x 5 base right next to it. That was quick.

Then it struck me. Since I was already -here- in Minecraft Creative mode, why not do some color tests and plan that too?

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I knew I wanted to explore the gradients of green and turquoise I had seen in the world that reminded me of GW2 necromancer colors.

It also so happened that black was a rock in ample supply on the first Aus server world I started with, so that would be a good color to use too.

I am not an artist. I was basically going to build a rectangular box. A flatted factory for my machines. But I could make it a box with a pleasant gradient of greens.

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Boundless has gleam blocks that provide light. Since I’m already here, I may as well work out just how many spaces per “light” block I’d need to create something symmetrical.

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Of course, I’d need windows and doors, because I cannot imagine being cooped up in a Minecraft or Boundless building for too long without being able to look out at the scenery and horizon outside.

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You know, I’d better light the interior as well. “Fluorescent” lights for the factory.

Bonus, I could use the lights in the roof as floor lights when it comes time to expand upwards and build an additional floor.

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Yep, planned interior looking pretty good.

Back over in Boundless, the first decision I was going to have to make was what -texture- of block to use.

It had to be something cheap and easy enough for a newbie to make, no multi-step elaborate marble or concrete recipes for moi.

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The three basic rocks are sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic, and they all have rough hewn stone textures. So those wouldn’t exactly be very nice for what I had in mind.

After going through a bunch of wiki links and mostly choking on the high recipe cost of the extremely decorative blocks, I decided that “refined metamorphic rock” and “refined sedimentary rock” were relatively presentable and -actually- doable.

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The conversion was still going to be mine out 18 rocks to convert into 50 stone (4 min 10 sec x 6 times), and 288 stones (25 min) for 50 refined rocks. Essentially, 108 rocks for 50 refined rocks, with some leftovers.

I’d pulled out over 5000 rocks in roughly 30min of flailing away underground with a 3×3 hammer on a T1 world, so it didn’t seem too impossible. The trick would be getting the right colors though.

Each world sports different colors of rock. I spent even more time clicking away at the Worlds tab on the third-party Boundless Crafting website, trying to figure out which world had the shades of green I wanted. Then I figured out going the reverse route by checking out the item, which then shows which planet to get it from.

But but… surely the colors on a web browser and the colors in-game don’t quite match. Neither was I convinced that this other player spreadsheet summarizing the planets and color info exactly replicated the colors.

Nothing for it. I was just going to have to adventure to each world, and yank out some rock color samples. Self-assigned quest time!

That turned into a series of mini-adventures in themselves.

Midway through the quest to dig mini potholes in various worlds, I walk through a portal to the planet Gellis… to find myself standing in a museum of ALL blocks.

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You could probably hear my jaw drop a mile away.

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All the types of ice.

Wandered it for at least half an hour, taking screenshots aplenty.

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One of the gleam corridors.

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Even more gleam. So shiny.

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Stone. All the textures and things you can make from rock and stone.

There was a brief pause where one attempted to cut and paste from various screenshots to see if I could cross reference colors that way.

Nope. Still didn’t look good enough. Onward to the next planet!

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More jaw-dropping. Also at player creations.

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I had to expand windowed mode back to full ultra-widescreen for this one. The music soundtrack that suddenly started while I stared at the landscape and the two planets slowly drifting across the sky gave me chills. Most of the portals were closed and the place uninhabited, remnants of a community that had moved on. It felt like walking in ancient ruins, on an alien planet.

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Then I get to the edge of town and gasp, because this is a -floating- city in the sky and the planet is below. Way below. How on earth am I getting down to where the rock is?! All the portals are closed…

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I run around town, looking for open portals and find nothing. I stand on thin floating black roads, afraid to touch the empty spaces because there -could- be absolutely clear glass protecting me from a drop… or there could be absolutely nothing but air and a long long plummet. Then I see it. Do you?

Yeah, there’s a water elevator a la Minecraft that flows down. Right in the center of the tree.

Going down it was a trip because it alternated between running out of air if I stayed in the center, and plummeting through air if I moved out to grab a breath. I did end up smacking right into the ground at the final bit, but was near enough to not die from the fall damage.

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If I ever get strong enough, I would love to build a base on this T6 planet, Malurialakrib. It’s got all the shades of green I love. It’s even conveniently an Aus server planet, so I’ll get 80ms ping. Sweet. Now if only I could figure out what to do about the extremely lethal wildlife pests…

Some hours later… I eventually wind up at home base with all my geologic loot.

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Impromptu color palettes are assembled, for an audience of one.

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Less favored colors get hammered out of the running. I hem and haw some more.

This won’t work. I need to see them in my planned building format as a solid wall…

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Ok, strike out the rightmost column, that one is too dark at night.

Oh yeah, it’s night. I also came home with a bunch of colored gleam. LIGHT TEST.

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They’re all so very pretty.

But the highest contrast one with the tinge of blue is closest to what I have in mind, so that one wins for now.

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Still indecisive on the exact color arrangement of the green gradient wall… eh… I think I’ll go for the glowiest on the left.

But do I put them light to dark, or dark to light?!

A thin strip is not working, I think I need a bigger wall sample…

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Hmmm…. I still don’t know!

Oh wait, I need to knock out some blocks to simulate the windows…

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An extreme amount of dithering later, over which two in-game days pass, I eventually settle on one.

Only to realize that the work has just begun.

First, clearing out all the natural landscape in the new plots, digging out soil and rock. (The pink shows the boundaries of the 8 x 8 plots.)

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I started laying some basic flooring in basic black stone, for lack of anything better… and I’ve run out about a third of the way through.

Now I have to go mine more black rock, go back to the planets to collect more green rocks, turn those into refined rocks, and start laying them, one block at a time.

This should keep me busy over this weekend and most of next week… and I’m not even earning any extra coin by doing so, beyond some along-the-way feat/achievement completion rewards.

However did I get down this rabbit hole again?

Boundless: Adventures in Arbitrage, Alts and Alien Planets

Boundless continues to mesmerize.

It’s a queer little community inside a virtual world containing >50 microworlds or planets. Online concurrent player counts are in the 150-300 range. It reminds me a great deal of A Tale in the Desert (ATITD), in that it is a Dunbar’s Number gathering of stable social groups, interacting to form a microcosm of civilization.

It’s small enough that global chat is persistent and -saved-, even when one is not logged-in, something I’ve only seen in ATITD (or Discord.)

For most MMO players, the lack of the -massive- where player populations are concerned may be a deal breaker, but I find these numbers just right for virtual worlds where each player can occupy land area (and in Boundless’ case, a -massive- amount of space for certain obsessive builder types).

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This building was so huge, it couldn’t fit into one screenshot.

Having worlds teeming with too many players would mean locust issues, areas spawned camped or resources constantly emptied out and so on.

Just like ATITD, I am sure there will be social drama from time to time when players enroach (be it knowingly or unwittingly) on each other’s territory or personal building space (the size of which may differ dramatically from player to player.)

Personally, I am not much of a builder, and I figure I can build to my heart’s content in other games (creative mode Minecraft comes to mind, and I hear some people keep begging for one in Boundless too. Since it’s a buy to play game, who knows, maybe someday.)

So I have been carefully avoiding over-committing and over-investing build-wise into my stuff. My camps and home bases are small and set up near big cities, so that I can shamelessly use whatever amenities are available.

I figure this will make packing up and moving nomadically much easier, because there appears to be the potential for some massive obsessive builder types (with potentially large egos) in this game conflicting over land area rights. Me, I am super allergic to drama.

Conversely, I know -exactly- what compels me about Boundless.

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So MANY portals. Portals everywhere.

The portal concept is inspired. It is like several dozen Minecraft servers all linked up with the most elaborate waypointing and teleporting system ever. It is a maze of player made nodes and links. It holds the promise of so many valuable secrets for an explorer who bothers to grok its paths, dead ends from players who stopped playing and left their portals un-fueled included.

It is sending my inner mapper, so long left dormant since my MUD days, into paroxysms of glee.

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The reward for doing so is both beautiful screenshots, to memorialize and bear witness to the homes and efforts of the builder types who do reside in this special microworld,  as well as knowledge and “secrets” that the explorer in me is keen to exploit for personal profit.

Doubtless, the profit is small potatoes, compared to what the established veterans are earning per hour, hence the continued existence of such niches for newbies to exploit. They simply aren’t worth the bother for the older players.

But for a newbie who is finding the experience of criss-crossing the worlds new and novel, unlocking map regions to boot, and going crazy with screenshots, the act of identifying a valuable resource that is selling for X amount in one place while another place is willing to buy at X + Y amount is basically a player-made adventure in arbitrage.

First, I have to find the resource, comparing prices across worlds, mostly diving in and out portals and evaluating which quantity is worth the effort. Then I set out on a self-given quest to locate the shop selling the resource, either diving in and out portals again looking for one that brings me as close as possible to the waypoint you can set, or giving up and hurling myself cross-country at a sprint directly toward the marker.

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This is either supposed to be a candle-like flame… or it is someone’s gigantic e-peen.

Finally, inventory stuffed full of the resource, I zoom back to the portal hub and gleefully offload it at the other shop who didn’t want to make the trip themselves and were willing to pay a premium for the delivery service. The Y amount is small, but it’s enough for a newbie to afford stuff they want to buy to make leveling life and progression easier.

My personal goals, for example, are more exploratory and hunter/gather-y in nature. I want to make it to T5 & T6 planets as fast as possible. I want to be able to check out exoplanets. I eventually want to try out a group hunt and/or get enough power/skills/weapons to solo medium tier meteorites comfortably.

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And caving. And screenshotting everything.

At the same time, I’m not morally opposed to gathering whatever resources older players want to buy so that I can earn some extra coin. Whatever resources are left over, I can also utilize back at home base camp for my dinky little crafting machines and the slower process of unlocking crafting progression for my crafter alt.

Yes, alt. Skill points are limited in number per level, and it seems to be common consensus that one character is not able to unlock everything, so it is best to have different specialized characters.

Boundless appears to belong to that quizzical subset of virtual worlds we don’t see much any more. You’re expected to have alts to get anywhere. Pull out the right tool for the right job. This reminds me a great deal of the ancient MUD I played. It was simply accepted that X character could not do a particular thing, pull out your Y character to do that, your X character is for doing this other thing instead. It’s another minor nostalgia kick.

It’s been a week since I started playing Boundless, and a lot has gotten done. One is beginning to dip one’s toes out of the newbie zone and into a more mid-tier realm of play.

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Even more portals. This one appears to be like a train-like series of portals with “stations” at each T5 or T6 planet, and thoughtfully placed so that you can run straight through. Not having enough atmospheric protection for a particular planet means an almost blinding overlay effect obscuring one’s view and a suffocation meter. Needless to say, it is not easy finding an exit in those conditions, so straight paths are awesome.

Each time I put enough skill points into gaining atmospheric protection for a T4, T5 or T6 world, I’ve gone dashing through portals to check it out. The mobs there are pretty lethal and my generalist character with insufficient combat skills and inadequate tier weapons cannot cope.

Still, Boundless is a -sandbox- game, so instead I’ve just endeavored to stay out of the aggro range of the scary mobs, harvested some stuff and did the Minecraft thing of drilling a mineshaft under one’s feet straight down into the earth. There are, thankfully, no mobs there for now.

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Still doable with cheaper not-so-top-tier tools from player shops.

Instead, I’ve simply lifted the Minecraft branch mining technique and dropped it wholesale into Boundless. A little looking up of resource depths and doing the grid search in the right place has yielded decent amounts of silver, gold, titanium and even the odd rough diamonds.

It’s still probably small potatoes to the established players. The forums are full of concerned veterans worried for the welfare and interest level of newbies who are limited to much less efficient means of resource gain.

Apparently, they have ludicrously enchanted levels of 3×3 AoE tools that mine at super fast speeds and power, so they basically can go through the earth like a bulldozer and dredge up vast quantities in super short periods of time. And then they have regen bombs that can be thrown to regenerate the world and do it all over again.

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Their bases are factories of sheer industry.

Whatever. One will get there when we get there. The journey is more than half the fun.

Case in point, I checked out my first exoworld the other day. These are short-term planets that appear in the sky for limited periods of time (a week or so) and contain resources that can’t be found elsewhere. Usually special block colors among other things. A lot are T7 planets, meant for the elder game players, but conveniently, this new one was only T4, and more accessible to new players. It was also, delightfully, an Aus server planet, so I didn’t have to worry about potentially bad ping.

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Traveling to one involves crafting a warp conduit to place on a totem tool. Then you point the totem at the planet in the sky (this one a -crazily- fast ricocheting planet that rebounded around the screen) and hold down left mouse button to mark a landing site.

After which, you craft some cheap warp conduit bricks, stack them on top of each other to create essentially a temporary “portal” or warp gate, and agree to paying the coin cost for warping there – the cost of which depends on the distance traveled.

The cost was about 9-10 times more than usual warp travel on the same planet, and I wasn’t at all sure I knew how to make any profit off it (aka what to keep or who to sell to – I still don’t) but heck, it was an adventure and I could make a gathering run to afford it.

So I went.

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Took plenty of screenshots.

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Funny story I read on the forums. A more established player had apparently taken two other newbie players along for the exoworld adventure, except that they managed to somehow put their landing site on top of some “redwoods,” upon which one newbie promptly fell to their death. I assume these are the kinds of trees the player was talking about.

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It’s fascinating how the colors change with the light. The sun was very yellow on this exoworld so blocks weren’t really showing any true colors when one was there, one had to look at one’s inventory and the block descriptor to see what color it really was.

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I continue to be astoundingly impressed by the concept of showing other planets in the sky. You can literally see the impacts of player builds on the planet from adjacent planets. (The long straight roads are obvious, for example.)

Made off with some purple gleam (colored glowing blocks) and some other colored blocks that are just going to languish in my chests for the time being.

But it was fun.

 

GW2: No Quarter Trailer

Looks tentatively promising.

Story development; lots of exciting combat action; actually using a open world map zone for a map wide meta; lots of armor sets to counter the commenters who whine about lack of armor when they see new weapons (new charr helmets, omg, I want); strike mission that is presumably less restrictive than the other “r” word.

Maybe ArenaNet is finally being ArenaNet instead of trying to be yet another cookie cutter MMO.

Guess we’ll see. Mostly dead inside, but perhaps a faint burning ember of hope can be kindled.

(Of course, Anet being Anet, everything could break, bug out and the servers might lag endlessly, ruining the entire understandably-temporarily-voiceless experience even further. Gotta protect that teeny spark of eternal hope with a nice crusty layer of realistic pessimism.)