Excalibur

by J. J. Guest profile, G. C. Baccaris profile, and Duncan Bowsman profile

2021

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Number of Reviews: 2
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A fan wiki for a 'lost show', April 3, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

When I had heard that JJ and Grim had been working on a huge Twine project, this isn't what I expected, but I enjoyed this nonetheless.

This is a fake wiki, a sprawling website with links to tons of different actors, directors, characters, episodes, and even fan theories. It reminds me of the wiki game Neurocracy, although I believe they're gated differently. In this game, the wiki is being updated as you go, with new links appearing after you explore others.

The beginning was, as another reviewer mentioned, a bit difficult; with so much information at once, I just sort of lawnmowered through it, saving the fun stuff for last. So I ended up reading the 'people' page, then 'characters', then 'planets' and then the episodes.

It was slow going, with no real plot beats in those first segments because they were order independent.

But it was fun for different reasons. This project seems to have several different goals: to be a sort of 'lost episode' creepypasta-type story, to be funny, to provide a window into 70's culture, to honor and parody Dr. Who and original Star Trek (among others), and to impersonate and parody fan wiki culture.

That's a lot to deal with. One interview snippet from the wiki is an apt description of the wiki itself (mild spoilers):
(Spoiler - click to show)"In the end, I think we were all just pulling in different directions. Carson and I wanted this quite serious Space Opera, if you like, edgy, with political undercurrents and elements of folklore. Jerry (Newbaum) wanted a children's show to compete with Doctor Who, and Derek Farland, well, he really should have been writing kitchen sink dramas. In the end, the show just sort of tore itself apart."

One issue with writing 'creepy' or 'weird' TV shows is that a lot of TV shows are both intentionally and unintentionally weird, and you run into Poe's Law.

There were three threads in the wiki about its own origins, of which I found two pretty compelling (heavy spoilers from here on out):
(Spoiler - click to show)I enjoyed the 'curse' aspect, where the crew enacted an unholy Crowley-based ritual in Glastonbury Tor, invoking the 'thelema' of the producer to enact his will, and thereby dooming the entire show to obscurity.

I also enjoyed the 'Tulpa' idea whereby the whole show (and possibly all of human existence, according to 'Hantises') is a form of haunting or mass delusion or collaborative psychic projection which, once disrupted, fades away forever. If you're a fan of this idea, I recommend this game itself (of course) and also SCP-3930 (http://www.scpwiki.com/scp-3930), a similarly masterful telling of this idea.

The least compelling to me was the idea that it was just a lie.


There's a lot of humor in the game. My favorite line was "It was later found that a fried lentil from a packet of Bombay Mix (Newell's favourite snack) had become lodged in the cavity left by the write-protect tab."

Like I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of insights about the 70's. I liked this line about that (spoilers for ending)(Spoiler - click to show)Strikes, shortages, sexism, and the Black and White Minstrel Show. Yet the way people talk now, anyone would think they were Britain's glorious heyday. And that's the point, you see. You can't go back to the way things were, because they never were like that in the first place. We create our own past, we invent it. We make it whatever we want it to be. But the reality of it is, there is only now. The eternal now.

The final theme of the wiki seems to be around (Spoiler - click to show)loss and the past, as that last quote describes. For me, the real 'ending' was when I read (Spoiler - click to show)about how the documentary-writer's friend had had an 'incident' and pulled away, in conjunction with the final episode summary about saving the world but no one remembering you. The actual ending itself was less satisfying, but I see its purpose as (Spoiler - click to show)you need an anchor point for people to say 'okay', I've seen the whole game. Perhaps I just didn't understand it. In any case, I enjoyed my own gradual realizations of the themes shortly before the true ending.

I initially was going to give this 4 stars, with a point taken off for the overly spread out info at the beginning, then 5 stars as I approached the end, then 4 again for the mild letdown I had with the actual ending. So I'll just go with my formula:

+Polished: Immensely polished. It doesn't really get better than this. Also appreciated the art, which I hadn't mentioned before.
+Descriptiveness: Incredibly detailed. More detailed than some real wikis I've tried to use to look up shows before.
+Interactivity: At first, not so much, but as it went on I enjoyed it more. A real wiki dive.
+Emotional impact: Left me quite thoughtful at the end.
+Would I play again? It doesn't really lend itself to replay. I was planning on making this a '-', but I love the story of Excalibur, and maybe one day I might (with the author's permission' do some fan fiction in the world, as it's truly delightful. But that would be far in the future.