-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.

 

Boundless: Now You’re Thinking With Portals

Today’s Boundless adventure, after making copper tools and a grappling hook, was running around to check out existing player builds on my planet.

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Someone’s “modest” little farm fields… I should get more ambitious when I build in Minecraft.
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Without a doubt, far more than I will ever build on my own.
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No more words, just ran around ogling at buildings instead.
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There was also an interior to this cathedral. (Which I unfortunately screnshot with UI on, it was selling high tier weapons.)

 

Sometime shortly after, I discovered a whole string of player-run portal networks linking up various points of interest, both locally and on a planetary scale.

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Obviously, the gigantic megaportal was too tempting to pass up.

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Turns out that it led to an airport-like portal megahub run by Ultima Guild, aka the Ultima Network.

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The attention to detail is mind-blowing. Notice they show you exactly what type and color of blocks are found within each planet that the portal is linked to.

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Yes, you can visit all the various regions’ planets, subject to the latency there.

The US worlds stayed at a pretty sedate 220ms, which is normal for my geographical location, and that’s a good sign. (FAR better than what GW2 has been offering these days. *coughs*)

Of course, the highest tier worlds with the most hazardous challenge also reward the most glowy and special of blocks.

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Definitely not at those levels yet, so I noped out of those.

Instead I just ran through some of the level 1 and level 2 world portals at complete random with no idea where I was going or where I was going to end up.

I wore out my screenshot key a little while thereafter.

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Thankfully, there is a free way to warp back to one’s home beacon (by returning to the Sanctum lobby and using the warp conduit there) because I was thoroughly lost by the end of it.

This place is a builder’s paradise. (Albeit with presumably insane amounts of grind to earn the colored building blocks, as opposed to, say, the ease and unlimited palette of Minecraft’s Creative Mode.)

I suppose if I end up staying around it’ll be worth mapping the portals slowly and figuring out what links where and what’s there. Who knows. Or I could just be a filthy casual and stumble around at random whenever I get the urge to see pretty things.

Either way, it’s been definitely worth the visit.