What problems did you focus on early?
Static mining, road, rampart, and wall repairs, multiple rooms
Or looking back what do you wish you had planned ahead for?
Remotes, should've not waited till GCL7 with them Was a big game changer.
The amount of things to consider is substantial and I’m not even totally clear about what’s most important at each RCL ?
Below RCL 8 -- getting to RCL8. At RCL8 -- getting more rooms to RCL8.
Is it better to just have poor code up on the main server asap to chip away at GCL or are there a few bare minimum things you recommend before heading into the wilderness?
Bare minimum. I develop my code on Live, makes it more fun. Dropped in immediately with just tutorial code.
Are there particular design patterns or concepts that you’ve found work well for you?
Early returns. Also, lodash is love, lodash is life.
At some point I’ll have to spend some time studying the source of popular bots and see how certain problems have been solved there, but interested to hear your thoughts.
Personally, I try not to study the code of others too much. Instead, I normally talk to the people on the slack (highly recommend joining if you haven't yet) to get higher end concepts and ideas on how they do things, then adapting and implementing them myself as appropriate. Also observing other's code out in the wild. Some interesting observations can be made that way.