The TSUKI (月) Project was a website based on the belief that our reality is just one system among many in existence, and that when we die, we ascend to the next system.
Several references to the anime TV series Serial Experiments Lain were present on the website and its multi-reality theories.
Origins (Jan-Feb 2017)
On January 15, 2017 a 4chan user began a thread on its /r9k/ board anguishing about his "daydream world telling him to die before August 28". Other anonymous posters asked him questions about his situation, which he answered them, remarking that "they're comfy and it feels good to have others talk about your daydreams".
He made two other threads on January 20 and 26 respectively. In both threads, he was mocked by doubters and asked questions by believers - themes that would repeat throughout the history of the Project. It was in the latter thread that he first began to call himself Tsuki.
The first thread in which Tsuki asked for others to "leave your world behind for a better one" was on January 29. When a user expressed interest in doing so, Tsuki instructed the user to draw a picture which included a code. Tsuki declared that all users who signed up would "be transported as long as you die any time after 1st of Jul, 2017. Dying of old age included, but suicide also included. Dying before the set date will cause your EID to be reset, cancelling the transfer", and stated that he was "hoping for maybe 25-50 people in total, and we [he and the corporations he represented] have until Jul 1st to recruit." He was pleasantly surprised that there were "so many requests it doesn't fit on one A4", and the thread closed with over 400 replies.
The phenomenon continued through February. The anons of /r9k/ derided it, debated it, and clung to it as the only thing that made life worth living. But, it remained a hit-and-miss thing: two threads failed to receive any replies, one of which was made by Tsuki himself. By the second week of the month, Tsuki had begun to make a website. The stories continued to pour in: of ordinary people, struggling with mental health and poor surroundings, finally finding acceptance.
As progress on the site proceeded apace, an anonymous poster claimed that there would be "closed systems", but was ignored. Two days later, Tsuki made multiple threads seeking advice on /r9k/ about what "communication technology" he should add to his website: forum, imageboard, or IRC. Fatefully, Tsuki considered and rejected IRC, but did decide to have an imageboard.
The big week (February 19-26, 2017)
The website opened partially on February 19, 2017. While Tsuki continued to talk about "looking into" IRC, events forced his hand as the first Systemspace Discord (later named Firstspace or Oldspace) was announced in that very same thread. He had also made a thread on Lainchan about it.
The 4chan thread where Tsuki announced the website received over 500 replies; but nothing lasts forever, and an anon made a new thread which, in its turn, received almost as many as the thread it continued. The new thread hosted a firestorm of controversy: pro- and anti-Tsuki posters called each other "normies" and otherwise insulted and mocked each other. There was, however, serious debate about whether to believe or doubt Tsuki. Tsuki welcomed such debate at this point, because the Project was "also an experiment on human doubt".
Another thread brought two new features which would endure throughout the lifespan of the Project; people self-identifying by numbers that showed the order of their registration (which would later be referred to as "migrant numbers"), and thinking about what they would be or do in LFE. By late February posters had begun to fear "movement of redditscum and other shite" who would "most likely follow us right until" the new imageboard; but they were hopeful that "good moderation" could keep it "a new home for 'robots' [users of /r9k] and lainons (from lainchan)" and prevent it from devolving into "/r9k/ lite normie central".
By 5 March, prospective registrants could upload their pictures with codes on them to the website instead of posting them in successive Systemspace threads. Even though Tsuki did not post at all in one of those threads, it continued to be abuzz with activity as a nascent Systemspace community was quickly growing; an anon received a hand-drawn picture for their birthday, another spoke about how they couldn't "stop thinking about LFE", and others enthused over the possibility of seeing "otherworldly landscapes" "in person".
Debate also raged about whether Systemspace was preferable to traditional religions like Christianity, or whether it was compatible with them after all. For example, a user compared the Christian requirements to go to church every Sunday, pay a tithe, and believe in Jesus or else go to Hell for eternity to the Systemspace requirements to draw and photograph a picture with a "simple code" and stay alive until the 1st of July, and found the latter much more preferable. The imageboard opened on February 26, 2017.
Glory days (February 26-April 22, 2017)
"Glory days, they'll pass you by..."--Bruce Springsteen.
The epicenter of the Systemspace community quickly shifted to the new imageboard (boards.systemspace.link) and the Discord once they were created. The young community was unaware of how ephemeral they would be, and so did not archive them well. The 4chan archives now become a side window on the Systemspace community, not the main source.
A thread was made on 4chan's "/x/" (Paranormal) board about the Project where it was greeted with interest.
Through March, recruitment for the TSUKI Project began increasingly to focus on the comforts (or as they would call it themselves, "comfy") of the community rather than the inherent merits of transferring to another System with memories intact. Of course, they, chief among them NYPHVR, "one of the 4-5 (I'm pretty sure it's 5) mods we've chosen", also had to refute certain arguments supporting the opinion that it was a "suicide cult". He had to point out that only death after July 1, 2017, could transfer a soul to LFE, thereby allowing people who joined at least a few months more to find new reasons to live on, and counter the idea that Tsuki ever encouraged suicide in any way.
While the number of dedicated Systemspace threads decreased once the new imageboard was started, Systemspace-related content began to spill over into unrelated threads, like dating threads, game threads, and threads about hoping to be reborn in a different body.
Despite minor hiccups, things seemed to be on the up and up through March and April. The number of registrants reached four digits and increasing numbers participated in the community. Then the dam burst.
The floodgates burst (April 22-May, 2017)
On April 22, 2017, a video about the TSUKI Project was made by ScareTheater, a well-known YouTube channel. The result was an utter flood of new people into a community that was ill-prepared to handle their influx and hostile to their culture. There was one way to quickly differentiate between the ones who had come from Lainchan and /r9k/ and those that had come from the ScareTheater video: registrants in the TSUKI Project received a number that showed the order in which they had signed up. Thus, those who had joined earlier mocked and insulted mercilessly those who bore numbers around that range.
On April 24, the Compendium, a compilation of the answers of Tsuki to the questions asked him in relation to the Project, first appeared on GitHub. It would be continuously updated until February 2018.
The demonym "migrant" for those who signed up for the TSUKI Project and the term "migrant number" for the number each was given at registration were not used in the earliest threads, before the boards were created; their first extant use is found in the Compendium.
To top it off, two incidents occurred which would sow the seeds of internal dissent to the TSUKI Project.
The first was a brief article entitled "The Burden of Truth". This was an attempt by Tsuki to explain why he did not provide proof for the existence of Systemspace. He stated that "if there were absolute truth of Systemspace being real, everyone would edge towards signing up" but "if there were truth of Systemspace being fake, everyone would edge towards calling me off as a schizophrenic." He therefore reasoned that "a balance of real and fake" was needed "to make a choice that truly represents what you wish to believe." To do that, he stated that he had "given tiny hints of proof, which are easily warded off by people who do not believe" and "slightly 'lied' to the community of sorts" and "'slipped up' as you may call it, which can also be warded off by people who believe.". This ignited a furor.
The next day, he altered the text of this article by replacing "slipped up" with "instilled doubt" and adding a new section declaring that "I try to (and believe to have succeeded to) never lie.". Yet the damage was done. A group named the Apollo Society had struck while the iron was hot and made much hay of the change.
The second was the appearance of a mysterious "void file" on the systemspace.link website. The void file was in the form of binary data, mostly consisting of garbage data that changed with each download, but within which were embedded "payload sections" containing human-readable files that was nevertheless extremely corrupted. For several days, the "payload sections" contained test transmissions of first a video and then an image. Then, the "payload sections" changed to a picture of Lain Iwakura in her bear suit, captioned with "DO NOT SHOW THE CONTENTS OF THIS IMAGE TO ANYBODY AT TSUKI, INCLUDING THE REP". This stated that eNdymioN, one of the companies that were behind the TSUKI Project, had reached a deal with the Hyakanghen, an organization opposed to the TSUKI Project. "They will leave migrants alone until Aug 1st", promised the image, "They believe killing self before then will make you worthy".
Due to the technical difficulty involved, only a few, among whom was Fox, managed to extract the payload. The few decided to maintain radio silence, and contacted staff for help enforcing it. However, in doing so, Tsuki was informed of the picture's existence. Fox got into contact with Tsuki, and agreed, in his words, to "claim that I made it, invent some bullshit story about putting it in the void stream to test if someone's trustworthy, done - to avoid non-believers (aka people who believe that Tsuki made the void stream) saying Tsuki asked people to commit suicide."
By May, emigration of old members was common. Appeals were posted on 4chan calling for new members to prevent the boards from being "flooded with normies".
Buildup to the opening of the Gates (May - July 1, 2017)
On May 10, eNdymioN announced the liquidation of a developer System, in order to gain more Aurora (fundamental energy of Systemspace) for the mission of the Project. This Aurora could "be used either as slots for users (28K) or time (560 days)"; hence, every 20 new migrants would bring the unlink, for which it was feared Tsuki would have to kill himself, one day forward. The increase in migrant slots was not universally popular; some complained that the new slots would only go to "normies", but Tsuki reasserted that "Robots are still the higher priority for us.".
On May 15, a survey was taken asking the community whether they wanted to advertise on 8chan or not.
Around that time, the sale of "file space" began in order to raise money for the Project. At the price of 0.0015 bitcoin per gigabyte, migrants could buy space to upload files to which they would have access in LFE. While it was suspected to be a scam for Tsuki's personal benefit, he denied it, saying that the revenue received was only enough to pay for the actual needs of the Project, such as server space.
An unofficial Project BBS was in existence by June 26.
The event anticipated by all was the opening of the Gates on the 1st of July, for souls would be transferred to LFE only if their bodies died after that date.
A long, hot summer (July - Sep, 2017)
When the Gates opened, a countdown to a few days later appeared on systemspace.link. What would happen when the countdown expired was not stated. Some assumed it counted down to the time when all migrants would kill themselves; others, that the whole Project was an alternate reality game. The truth was far more mundane.
The countdown expired to reveal the homepage of systemspace.link with a new button, "Join Chat", prominently displayed. Less than half an hour later, the chat was inaccessible due to overload by the torrent of users. Still, as a separate chat system independent from Discord, it continued to possess a hold on the migrant psyche far out of proportion with its limited lifespan.
What happened a week or two later, however, was anything but mundane.
In 2018 the website came under fire due to the suicide of a seventeen year old boy directly influenced by the TSUKI Project. The TSUKI Project website has since been taken down and the last few users migrated to INITIATE or left completely.
Much of the website was later debunked, and/or explained by Apollobase.
Serial Experiments Lain
Many theories from users about the TSUKI Project made link with the anime TV series Serial Experiments Lain. In fact, the website itself made it clear by having the protagonist on its banner. Many users believed that the Tsuki project was based off the anime, however it turned out it was based on a visual novel.
Lain herself became the mascot of the website and gained great affections from the users. As the website worked as a forum around the TSUKI Project, it was a prevalent place for sharing Serial Experiments Lain pictures. Some subscribers used the website as a fansite for the TV series without believing in the claims made about Systemspace, though a survey of over 1,000 users had results indicating that most claimed to believe it was real.
The Cult of Systemspace (youtube; by Initiate)
TSUKI Project website (archived)
TSUKI Project website (mirror)
The TSUKI Project explained (reddit)
- https://desuarchive.org/r9k/thread/34978041/#34983509 If you have the archive, please say so on Talk:TSUKI Project.
- https://github.com/SystemSpace/Compendium/blob/691e57781d4e75c08a99112e58999801d18640e2/compendium.rst As this is "version 5.5", there must have been earlier versions on Pastebin or privately circulated which have not survived.
- "Will us migrants get a special status in LFE? You migrants will definitely be seen as some sort of elite group."