It is like that, until you find a mix of formulas working well (that is: giving you smooth result in the navi window). Then little tweaking make interesting variations and it's just a matter of move in the navi window until you get somewhere I mostly use variations of the combination folding2/sierphilbert/reciprocal for my architectural environments, adding invcylindrical or invtorical to make curved shapes
Hmm. Every time I decide to ape around in Mandelbulb, I just choose random formulae(?) and random values, then generate the 3D image. I may mess around with the numbers until I find something that catches my eye. Or I just give up and go back to writing crossovers.