- Talon Stradley
The Murder of Bandana Dee
Updated: May 2, 2022
Talon: Hi, I’m Talon Stradley and welcome back to Playplace.
When We last left our ragtag group of pixel placers, they had just sneakily rebuilt the Playdate in the corner of the Swedish territory.
Allie: And people seemed to have not noticed. They’ve got other projects going. They’re invading other countries, I believe, at the time.
Talon: Allie again, our unofficial Swedish ambassador.
Allie: As long as no one notices us, we’re fine.
Talon: But that can be difficult, especially as the canvas continues to grow around us. One of the friendly mods of the Swedish discord, the one who was trying to help us all along, reached out.
Allie: Because they then wanted us to move up by two pixels so they could fit a little Kurzgesagt bird in the Swedish colors.
Talon: Kurzgesagt is an educational, animated YouTube channel that produces some really incredible videos. Their mascot is this little duck, bringing us around full circle. Now, ducks were asking us for space through the Swedish mod team.
Allie: So he asked us to move two up and I said “Ok, it’s your area, that’s fine. We just really don’t want to draw attention to ourselves.”
And he went “I’ll try to distract them, but I can’t promise anything.”
Talon: The duck never ended up getting made. A few other things were suggested for that area, some that would’ve overrun us and some that would’ve fit just beneath us, but none of them ever got constructed. But that didn’t mean we were safe. By this point, many of the Swedes were starting to get restless. Like we saw last episode, they didn’t care about votes or the systems. They were a bonafide mob, no longer constrained by the mod team. They are what came to be known as—
Brandon: Rogue Swedes as we were calling them. They kind of went rogue against the mod’s wishes.
Talon: The Nordic Union actually had historians who kept a detailed log of all of the union’s activities, including the rogue Swedes. Here are a few excerpts from The Timeline of the Nordic Union:
“Sweden launched an invasion of the Turkish streamer that has 3 million followers. Mods
gave warnings on what consequences this might have for the whole Union.”
“The Swedes wanted to go against the union and take advantage of this
“The Swedes launched an offensive on Hungary. The Swedish offensive was weak due to a lack of coordination and manpower. This attack was likely done by rogue Swedes.”
The Rogue Swedes were hungry for war. Remember how we built in a far off corner of Sweden? Well that far off corner of Sweden just so happened to share a border with, you guessed it, Hungary.
Brandon: Out of nowhere, in a matter of minutes, we just got completely obliterated.
Allie: A group of rogue Swedes attacked us.
Talon: We would later find out that this attack was much more coordinated than we first realized.
Allie: Yes! So, after all this place stuff was over, we had a Swede join our Playdate discord and say sorry and he was the one who told us, he went “There was a group of rogue Swedes setting up their own discord just to destroy the Playdate. So they coordinated that attack, I believe.
Talon: This was the third time we had fully constructed a Playdate only to have it be completely erased. But, weirdly enough, our spirits were still high.
Brandon: For as naturally pessimistic as I am, I actually did think we were going to get it done. After every time we lost it, I was— in those first few minutes, I was like “This is a waste. This is never going to work.”
I think the positivity, honestly, in our discord kept me going cuz I saw everybody else was super in on it and they were dedicated. You know, it was just that feeling of camaraderie. I was like, yeah. You know what? We can do this. We can keep going.
Talon: Allie and I continued to work what connections we had to the Swedish discord.
Allie: I think you and I were still trying to save what good faith we had left with the Swedish community.
Talon: Others though, weren’t as convinced our place was with Sweden.
Andrew: From my perspective we were never, ever safe.
Talon: Andrew again.
Andrew: I never trusted our landlords. I spent the entire last day searching for backups. I didn’t tell anybody because our discord was very well organized. That’s what I loved the most. All the decisions they were making I agreed with but also, it was very busy and I didn’t think that I needed to start telling people what I was doing unless I had something solid.
Talon: That’s right, we had our own kind of rogue operative and it turns out, that’s exactly what we needed. While everything was going down with Sweden, r/place doubled in size again, bringing a whole lot of empty space. We tried building there but we had the same experience as the last expansion: A rectangle appeared around us and ate us up before we could even finish. Allie and I continued with Sweden but Andrew began scouting the new territory.
Andrew: So, I started looking for places. The entire last day in the morning, I spent sort of pinging places. Finding places that I thought nobody would have an issue with me taking over.
Talon: So he’d place a pixel…
Talon: And wait to see what happens. Does it disappear immediately? Are people maintaining this area? Does it seem just a little too perfect?
Andrew: You want to stay away from those places because they’re alt accounts or they’re bots. But I would start looking for really unorganized, garbled pixels that I thought were maybe forgotten.
Talon: Andrew found a few different places like this and he’d reach out to those placing the pixels to see what was up. Most of them responded and were really nice.
Andrew: Oh hey! Uh, you know we’re building a Jango Fett helmet. You know if you want to help us, that’s cool, or we can help you. And you know it was just one guy, I maybe could’ve taken him, but just the sheer fact that he was nice. I quickly was like “Oh, Jango Fett! Cool man, I’ll move on. Just wanted to see if it was worth pursuing. Good luck to you, man.
Talon: Andrew continued searching for a potential spot.
Andrew: Sure enough, I found this group of garbled pixels near a Peace Sign.
Talon: This peace sign had all kinds of small and large communities built around, on top of, or inside of it. The peace sign was like a coral reef, a little habitat for these small, beautiful, pixel art creatures. There were still some undeveloped areas too. One spot in particular looked promising.
Andrew I felt like I had really struck gold because I observed it for a while, there was no movement. The pixels I was looking at, I saw some pink.
Brandon: And we were like “This spot looks good. There’s nothing really here. It’s just a mess of pixels, random colored pixels. There were a couple chunks of one color in that area, but to me it was nothing that I could make out.
Allie: I think it was like five pixels of the right color yellow.
Talon: Andrew shared the spot with the group.
Andrew: And the minute I posted that, luckily a lot of people agreed. Like “Hey yeah, let’s try it out. We don’t have anything else to lose.” And we went for it.
Talon: By this point I knew it was unlikely we were ever going to build this without some extra help. So, I reached out to people like my brother and his discord server, old friends of mine, and even the Swedish people. I basically said “Hey, I know some of you feel bad about what happened. If you want to help us out, we’re building here.”
Believe it or not, some of them actually helped. One even ended up buying a Playdate because of this whole endeavor. With the extra help and a good spot, we were making great progress. R/place would be ending later that day and it looked like we would actually make it on the final canvas. All of our dreams, all of our hard work and persistence. It was finally paying off.
Brandon: The first message I get is just all caps: F*CK YOU. And I was like wow, ok. What’s happening here? And then it was something about, leave Bandanna Dee and Kirby?
Talon: That’s right. That pink blob was the famous video game character, Kirby. The yellow? A Kirby character named Bandanna Dee. These were lovingly crafted by just one user, and we had run completely over it.
Brandon: Twoface I think, in the Dark Knight where he says you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. We kind of had that vibe going. Oh no, are we the baddies? We got swallowed so many times and then we just swallowed this single person trying to like— had their thing built for a while and was just existing.
Talon: On one hand, we felt awful. We knew how hard that was. On the other hand, this user was cursing everyone out, telling them to die, and harassing our users. At one point they messaged me and I tried to use this as an opportunity to reach an understanding. I asked my friend and fellow podcaster Seth Augeire to read the messages from this user for me.
Seth: F*cking bullies. Go F*ck yourself.
Talon: I asked if we could help move the characters.
Seth: The problem is, Kirby and Wadleedee are supposed to be under the paw of Light Fury.
Talon: Light Fury is one of the dragons from DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon. There were a few dragons just above us. I’m not sure why the user was so insistent on having Kirby and Bandanna Dee there, but they would not accept any offer to help move them.
Seth: I mean that Kirby is literally supposed to be beneath the paw of Light Fury. He’s lying on the ground with Bandanna Dee.
Talon: I tried a few different approaches. We offered to help them move or to use our communities pixel art skills to make an even better Kirby or Bandanna Dee that had more detail. They didn’t want any of it, so I said sorry.
Seth: Sorry doesn’t cut it.
Talon: Which is why I offered to help. At this point, we were just going in circles, all the while they are continuing to curse out and harass other users. Eventually, I had to just move on.
Seth: Your art here isn’t improving the canvas.
Allie: We also felt really bad because— he’s typing in all caps. GO F*CK YOURSELF but we’re trampling him. We are doing what the other groups did to us.
Talon: After some more work, the Playdate was completed and while pink pixels would occasionally appear, those eventually died down. Things were stable. So stable that we ended up making a little purple heart in the spot we wanted to move Kirby to. Now, it was just a matter of waiting and defending. We knew Reddit was ending r/place that day, but we didn’t know when that would be and we definitely weren’t prepared for how it would end.
Brandon: I don’t even know what we’re calling the ending now. The great undoing? The great erasing?
Allie: So before, in 2017, it just ended. That was it. It was just, right, that’s the end. And there was the final canvas. This time they changed it so you could only place white pixels.
Talon: Everyone, everywhere, could only place white pixels. At first all of the bots, with only one color to choose, blasted their territory with white, revealing any organizations who were using bots. After that first burst, the canvas slowly began to unravel. To erase. Returned to its initial state: A blank slate.
Allie: Which… I’m not sure how I feel about. I think quite a lot of people were just… a bit shocked almost? They just stood back and watched everything that they had worked for a few days battling over slowly disintegrate.
Talon: I could almost hear the 6 million r/place users singing the clean up song together as they slowly put everything back in it’s place.
In the end, after the scouting, the planning, the building, the diplomacy, the betrayals, the wars, the treaties, the losses, and the triumphs the only thing left was a white canvas and the shared experience of thousands of online communities.
Brandon: I feel like a deeper kind of kinship almost with the people we were doing this with in the Discord.
Allie: I think we were all just quite proud of ourselves at the end. We all battled hard. We did do it.
Talon: This has been Playplace. Thanks for listening.
Talon: If you want to see a timelapse of the 2022 r/place experience or want links to the final canvas, check out the show notes for this episode at newtonsdarkroom.com/playplace.
Playplace is a production of Newton’s Dark Room. It was produced by yours truly, Talon Stradley. Theme music by Brandon Dean. Want to help support the show? Visit newtonsdarkroom.com/support for behind the scenes features, content, and merch, including illustrated transcripts with pictures of our various attempts. Thank you to all of our supporters and extra thanks to our Special Edition Patrons, Sunny Werner and Crabaret.
Special shout-out to Seth Aguiree for providing his acting chops. You can listen to his show, Discount Therapy, wherever you get your podcasts.
Huge thanks to Andrew, Brandon, and Allie for lending their time for the show. If you want to see more of Andrew, checkout Tiny Yellow Machine on Twitch where he streams Playdate games, interviews developers, and keeps you updated on all things Playdate.
Thanks for letting me take you on this journey. I had a lot of fun putting it together and I hope you had as much fun listening to it. I’ll see you around.