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LittleBigPlanet on r/place 2022 | Operation Arbor Declassified

Updated: Apr 25, 2022


"Ultimately, our prize for us all, is that we...combined our [community] together as one for the first (if not second) time in this decade."

- Ezoiar, Union Task Force Commander and Peacekeeper Captain


On April Fools Day 2017, a 'five-day experiment' hosted by Reddit began called r/place. Users could place a single pixel on a massive canvas with a cooldown of several minutes. Five years later, the event returned on April 1st, 2022. However, this time, LittleBigPlanet found its place on the canvas despite armies of streamers, trolls, and other fandoms vying for control. If not for the efforts of a few dedicated few who started the movement, as well as the dozens of others who contributed to the effort under the umbrella of the Union Task Force, the tree would not have survived. This is the story of what would later be called 'Operation Arbor'.


What is r/Place?

Reddit's pixel-placing r/place event is a bit of a mystery to those unfamiliar with it. Users with a Reddit account can place a single pixel on a gigantic canvas. They can choose the color from a specified palette. After placing the pixel, they have to wait five minutes before they can place another. However, newly created users or accounts that Reddit suspects are used to cheat the system have much longer cooldown periods.

The final result of r/place 2022 before only white tiles were allowed to be placed by users.
The final result of r/place 2022 before only white tiles were allowed to be placed by users.

Those that want to draw larger art pieces on the canvas are therefore forced to unify with large forces of pixel placers to achieve their goals. They can also freely place pixels on art people have already created, so there is risk of 'invasion' or 'attack' by other users. Those with very large forces have a distinct advantage over others. The question is, would LittleBigPlanet stand a chance against the armies of massive livestreamers and more active communities?


Ezoiar, the LBP Union's Peacekeeper Captain, thought so.


Prelude


Before r/place began, Union Peacekeeper Captain Ezoiar was made aware of the event's return. "When I heard that r/place was coming back, I was so excited! I told my friends about it and I had ambitions to create Sackboy originally, so I started a poll in the r/littlebigplanet subreddit and the majority voted yes!"

Ezoiar initially appealed to the LBP Union Scribe team for help creating a pixel art template for Sackboy, but this attempt was unsuccessful. It seemed that the Union wasn't quite as excited for r/place as Ezoiar was, and they may not have even been aware of its scope and importance. Regardless, he pushed forward, finding one other user to build the LBP tree on r/place.


The First Tree


The first tree designs were made by an unknown user. The final 'small' design was created by Robot#5899. They decided to make the design as small as possible to make it easier to maintain and create in the face of threat from other users on r/place. They first attempts were made in the top left corner of the canvas just under the Genshin Impact logo near these coordinates,

710, 999 1st
77, 120 2nd
61,142 3rd

However, they had little success on their own and needed to find another way to secure the tree's safety.


They decided to reach out to a much larger force called r/greenlattice in the hopes of making a diplomatic agreement. Green Lattice would allow Ezoiar to build the LBP tree on their territory. In exchange, Ezoiar's team would help defend Green Lattice territory from attack.


A pixel art recreation of the LBP tree. The letters LBP can be seen on the right hand side.
The original tree built by Ezoiar and company. The tree is surrounded by r/greenlattice territory.

There was some delay in building the tree, as when Ezoiar reached out to r/greenlattice there was an ongoing invasion. However, after not too long, the tree you see above was created, marking LBP's place on the canvas!


However, it wouldn't be long until disaster struck.


Destruction of the Tree

Thanks to the livestreamer 'Asmongold', the first LBP tree was destroyed in a devastating attack along with several other artworks in Green Lattice and elsewhere. It was replaced with a massive image of 'pot boy' from Elden Ring.

The in-progress invasion of Asmongold's 'pot boy'.

When I personally heard news of the incident, I initially resigned that LBP may not be have the support it needed to maintain its position on the canvas. I told Ezoiar that we might have better luck next year with a more organized attempt. However, Ezoiar told me r/place wasn't annual. After all, the last time they did it was 5 years ago. It was then that I decided that none of us had given Ezoiar the support he needed from the beginning.


It was time to take back LBP's place on the canvas. Despite being out shopping at the time and needing to be back home soon for work, I decided to do something I never expected I'd have to do. I reactivated the Union Task Force.


Union Task Force: Operation Arbor


Union Task Force with latin text: Si vis Pacem Para Bellum
The UTF's official slogan is actually 'Who Dares Wins but I was too lazy to edit this image.

Long ago, in the days of the old Union when it was an alliance of clans, the Union Task Force (UTF) was the Union's military arm. It was originally created by the Union's founder and President Godman2k7 with the intent of uniting military-oriented creators and players of the Union. It was originally based off of the British SAS, representing a special forces unit for the Union and not intended to be a full-scale military. The politics of all that is a bit much to explain here, but needless to say I generally have been trying to avoid bringing back that aspect of the Union.


However, on Sunday, April 3rd, at 2:21 PM EDT, I made this announcement on Discord:


A tragedy has occurred. Our work to build the LBP tree on r/greenlattice's territory for r/place has been destroyed. I didn't want to have to do this, but I have no choice. I am reactivating the Union Task Force to reclaim and defend LittleBigPlanet's place in Internet history!
The announcement reactivating the Union Task Force.

UTF Commander Aeywoo reflected that "I found it fun that the community was more resilient to negative streamer influence meaning the overall image wasn't tarnished." Indeed, the destruction of the original tree perhaps served as a catalyst for what happened next.


I knew that in order to maintain LBP's hold on r/place for 2022, we needed to organize on a much larger scale to not only build the tree but also defend it from attack. That was something I knew only the Union Task Force could do. Following this, I quickly created a reaction role for the Union Task Force in our settings channel. I knew also that Ezoiar knew much more about r/place than I did, and I was about to have to leave for work. Due to this, I appointed Ezoiar as the Union Task Force's Commander. After all, if not for him, this wouldn't have been possible.