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.

centraforgeschool

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.

farmschool1

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.)

farmschool7

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.

farmschool6

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.

bound4j-mine2

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.)  

bound4i-mine1

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. 

bound4k
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.) 

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