When I was a poor student back in 1999/2000 I got into PD because I couldn't afford the $700 for Max. It was awesome. I used PD for every project I worked on from then until about 2013 when I got a Max license. I still use both often. PD is great for embedded devices, for instance.
I used to have a performance environment in PD with a number of samplers, granulators, and delays. Worked really well.
I still prefer Gem for graphics over Jitter.
Not as pretty as Max, but equally functional.
Looking forward to following and contributing to this thread.