#150 – “Her Guiding Light”

I know, I know, it’s late. Ultimately, this page took me just about all of my evening from getting home until now – thankfully the Westfall inn is a relatively simple structure, or it would’ve had to be pushed up until sunday. I’m a little worried the page might be a tad dark – it’s fine on my screen, but well.. my screen also has a resonably good luminosity, which may not be the case for everyone. If it’s too dark, I might try fixing it with post processing in hindsight, but we’ll see.

On the note of the delay itself, I’ve found myself up to ears in things I have to have done in the coming two-three weeks, so as a fair warning I may miss a few updates during that time period because there’s simply that many things that have to be done, and while I do prefer to keep my schedule.. this is merely a hobby, and sometimes some things have a greater priority. We’ll see what happens, but just so you know.


55 Responses to “#150 – “Her Guiding Light””

  1. 1 Lungus Kingsfield
    October 15, 2009 at 23:44

    Another great Comic Nhani! I like the darkness in the first pannels and the moonlight shining through the hole in the cealing! Amazing work! :)

  2. 2 Charles
    October 16, 2009 at 00:51

    Aye, the darkness allows the moonlight-type effect (or freaky dream light!) and glowing eyes and stuff to really stand out in a very pleasing way. I don’t think it’s *too* dark, at least on my screen. Great page.

  3. 3 Gordrake Thunderhoof
    October 16, 2009 at 00:52

    Don’t worry about it Nhani. Even if WoW is some people’s lives (like ours… *cough*) there’s still the real world out there that we have to survive in and that should always come first. And besides, you shouldn’t worry about it being a little late if that’s the case – I might even have a filler for you if you can’t think of something – an alternate version of the people’s favourite page. My version of self-gratification, but yeah…up to you on that one.

    The lighting’s just perfect – really sets the atmosphere of the moment (and the lighting being focused solely on Tyrande gives her that inner feeling of some higher power – I think that was what you was aiming for, were you not?) and the fact that it’s a little brighter on the bottom tiles goes to emphasise the dream-state that Hani was in. And nice touch with remembering that bandage on her arm, keeping consistency with previous episodes.

    As a minor note though…isn’t this the first time we’ve seen Hani’s legs bare? O.o

    • 4 Nhani
      October 16, 2009 at 10:52

      I tend to try to light Dream Tyrande in such a way to make her appear Ethereal and Otherworldly, as if her very presence is enough to light up a scene. I also want there to be some sense of mystery surrounding her since ultimately.. we don’t know who or what exactly she is.

      And yes, looking back, I think it might be. I thought it was fitting in this scene because with the way she sits in the last pane it helps create an overall feel of the pane (or at least, so I hope!). Plus, I thought it was an interesting and different look on her, especially since it puts her arms and legs in focus.

      • October 19, 2009 at 20:51

        i know shes a night elf, she adopted Shandris and was loved by both Illidan and Malfurion

        sorry for being an ass, it just comes when you know about lore :/

        • 6 Nhani
          October 19, 2009 at 21:44

          And now what if I were to tell you – to suggest, perhaps – .. that Dream Tyrande.. may not be Tyrande Whisperwind at all? Of course, she also very well might be, but therein lies the mystery: Who is she, what is she? What are her intentions? The only things we know of her (or well, that you, the audience, know of her) is what we’ve seen so far, and I think it’s fair to consider that young Foonmall may not be the most reliable of narrators.

          The question was never about the identity of Tyrande Whisperwind ;)

  4. 8 Kasa
    October 16, 2009 at 00:53

    The lighting is excellent in this one! Just ambient enough to appeal to the eyes.

  5. 9 Ilyara
    October 16, 2009 at 03:58

    ‘I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, ‘because I’m not myself, you see.’

  6. 10 Zeliek
    October 16, 2009 at 04:34

    Did you do anything different with your textures? Everything in this page looks so high-def it’s amazing. It might just be the darkness and the excellent directional light/shadows but it looks very smooth.

  7. 11 Illidan
    October 16, 2009 at 04:36

    It’s too dark in the first too pannels. Nevertheless, great work once again! :)

  8. 12 Illidan
    October 16, 2009 at 04:37

    Oops, meant “first two pannels”, sorry :/

  9. 13 Aries
    October 16, 2009 at 06:20

    night = dark, i see no problems here.

    Very nice work Nhani, worth the wait.

  10. 14 Synchronizor
    October 16, 2009 at 06:36

    While the page is rather dark, it is the middle of the night, it’s to be expected.

    One thing I’m not real thrilled about WoW is that night never quite feels like night, it just feels like daytime with stars. Due to the time difference between my local time and realm time (as well as my own goofy sleeping habits…), I generally end up playing my Night Elf character during the realm’s nighttime, and I rather prefer it that way.

    Despite it being night however, the zones remain brightly lit, with only the sky textures changing. I can understand this somewhat for populated areas like cities, where there are sources of artificial light, but when places like Feralas are bright as day at 03:00, I lose some of that immersion.

    Anyway, since that’s a minor pet peeve of mine, I’m always happy to see nighttime scenes that are properly dark.

    • 15 Nhani
      October 16, 2009 at 10:57

      Darkness is something a whole lot of games have a problem with, I find – there’s several first person shooters that give you a flashlight to help you navigate for example, and in a vast majority of them.. it’s utterly pointless because the dark isn’t.. well.. actually dark – unless you’re playing in bright day or on a monitor of ridiculously low luminosity, or you’re playing DooM 3, one of the few games where dark is.. well.. really DARK.

      In World of WarCraft you’re supposed to be able to navigate well without any light source, so I can see why they’d make it just slightly darker than day and more just change the colors of the light involved, but I agree.. I’d love the nights to be a little darker than they are in the game.

      • 16 Synchronizor
        October 16, 2009 at 11:31

        One game that I think handles darkness really well is The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. In that game, if you’re out on a moonless night, or in some dungeon, it’s DARK. If you want to be able to function at all, you need to pull out a torch, or use a light spell. However, anything that lights your way will also make it easier for enemies to see you coming…

        TES4 and WoW are my two favorite RPG games for different reasons. WoW has about the best lore I’ve ever run into in a video game, but it’s hard to really get fully immersed just because of the way you the player interact with it. There’s also the fact that you might be in-character, on a vital quest, and really getting into the role-playing, until someone named Eatmyshorts jumps you from behind, ganks you, and proceeds to perform the peanut butter jelly time dance over your corpse. MMORPGS by their very nature always have a way of throwing cold water in the face of any serious RPer.

        TES4, on the other hand, has relativly weak lore behind it (at least compared to WoW), and dosn’t boast the ongoing updates WoW is awesome for, but the interface is about the most immersive I’ve ever seen. The game is an RPG, but is played like a first-person shooter. If you miss your target with a bow, it’s not because your character’s skill level was too low, it was because you the player wasn’t a good enough shot. The same goes with melee weapons and shields. Upping your character’s skills and attributes will give you better moves or more power, but the actual fighting is all in your hands. If you miss a swing, or fail to block in time, or get too tired and fall down, it’s your fault, not the RNG.

        Add that to an extremly realistic setting, full voice acting for every NPC in the game, and a killer soundtrack, and TES4 is an incredible game to play.

        If Blizzard ever releases an Oblivion-playstyle single-player or non-massive multiplayer game that is set in the Warcraft universe and receives the polish and updates we get in WoW, I’d probably wet myself in excitement.

        • 17 Nhani
          October 16, 2009 at 12:13

          Huh, I don’t have that experience with Oblivion at all – generally when I play it, the only torch I ever pick up is the one they hand you in the tutorial, and I promptly throw it away the moment I’m free to set out on my own. I generally don’t bother with picking up torches and the only reason I ever invest in a light spell is for training in that particular spell school (Illusion.. is it?).

          It’s definitely darker than World of Warcraft is, but it’s still not.. well.. it’s not an oppressive, impenetrable darkness. You can still see in it, it’s just not quite as easy to. I can only recall one single game where I actually felt I needed a light source of some kind, and that’s DooM 3 – I’m still amazed at the darkness it has, because it’s actually really dark! You can’t see at all through it.

          It’s fair to say my experience with Oblivion differs from yours – the fact that all NPCs are voiced can quickly become silly as the vocal cast is very limited, and the delivery isn’t always all that staggering. Many of the impromptu conversations the NPCs will hold with eachother are, to be frank, utterly ridiculous and I’m still amazed how Sean Bean so utterly manages to phone it in with his role as Martin.

          Then of course we have the AI which, even with being toned down massively, has a tendency towards the absurd, with one of the high points being that prior to the Knights of the Nine DLC, I found the Anvil city guards would occasionally declare war upon the Anvil clergy with the result that the guards would hunt and slaughter the priests on the very streets, with other NPCs either fleeing or joining in and once the massacre had passed, no one would even bat an eyelid about the whole affair.

          Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy playing Oblivion and every so often I’ll usually reinstall it, go on a massive mod hunt to extend it with all manner of new quests, dungeons and awesome-looking weapons and armor (and to replace the quite frankly broken level progression system with a superior one – AF Leveling tends to be my favorite ) and relish in the exploration. I don’t tend to consider it a very immersive game though, since no matter how much I play it or how hard I try, the game tends to remain utterly determined to keep making me feel like I’m a stranger or a tourist in this world of strange people, and that ultimately.. the rules for my existence within that world are completely different from those of everyone else there.

          • 18 Synchronizor
            October 16, 2009 at 12:45

            I can see where you’re coming from with a lot of that. Oblivion does lack a lot of the polish that WoW has, so much so in fact, that the game has serious bugs that can make it unplayable without an unofficial bug fix mod that is completly created by the player community. It really is a borderline-broken game with out modding, though I do give Bathesda credit for including the construction set with the game.

            Wnenever I played the game, I had it modded every which way to suit it to what I enjoyed in the game. For me, this included lighting mods and AI bugfixes along with the standard gear, quest, and race addons. I havn’t played it in a while, and I have trouble remembering exactly what the actual vanilla game was like.

            As for the voice acting, the limited cast and their rather lackluster performances buged me too, but the fact is that they were all voice-acted. Even though it was crappy voice acting, I still prefered it to scrolling text. That’s probably more of a personal preference, I guess.

            The thing that I really liked about the game is the core FPS-style interface, and how it really put you in the driver’s seat instead of you just clicking a button and letting the game run all kinds of math to see what happens. That’s the immersion I get from the game. I agree that the lore and characters are nothing compared to WoW, but just the way the game is played makes me feel like I’m actually behind the eyes of my character, instead of controlling him or her from some removed vantage point.

            • 19 Gordrake Thunderhoof
              October 16, 2009 at 20:38

              Just adding my two cents here, but if it is anything like Morrowind was, then accuracy of your attacks is also somewhat based on random background dice rolls. I’ve aimed perfectly at some Nix Hounds in the game earlier and it felt like I was never going to actually hit it. If it didn’t have some element of randomness to the game, then how come I was missing direct shots, not casting spells or failing to punch something which was right in front of me, pointer aimed directly on it’s chestplate?

              Frankly, it’s about as useful as FPS-style looks on WoW for me, since the only factor you decide is how long you hold back before launching the attack.

            • 20 Synchronizor
              October 16, 2009 at 22:47

              Yeah, that was a big part of the reason I could never get past the early levels in Morrowind. Oblivion took all those calculated misses and failed spells out, letting rolls based on your level and skill determine the damage you did and the moves that are avaliable to you, not whether you could hit the giant rat standing still in front of you.

              MUCH less frustrating at lower levels…

  11. 21 Messai
    October 16, 2009 at 08:02

    the page isn’t that dark at all, it’s good enough to give you the night-time feeling.

    I do wonder why Nani keeps seeing the Priestess, she feels guilty or does she miss her so much? :) it’s an interesting plot device that keeps me interested :)

    Keep it up :D

  12. 22 Germ
    October 16, 2009 at 08:19

    Perfect lighting. I was wondering when the Priestess would show up again.

  13. October 16, 2009 at 11:44

    Very awesome lighting. Superb!

  14. October 16, 2009 at 12:45

    i don’t care its late its awesome! oh yeah, decided to roll a ne female, but not name her Hani, in honor of your wish :D

  15. October 16, 2009 at 12:58

    Hey Nhani, I like the darkness. It’s not too dark. To me, the extreme darkness in the first few panels makes it seem like the middle of the night. Then the dream is really good. I really got a sense that the Priestess was the cause of the moon light and its on her for a reason. But the lightness of the last few panels makes it seem like its early morning and Hani is the first one awake. Like the vision only seemed to take a few minutes for Hani but actually lasted 4-5 hours… cool stuff.

    And I always look forward to your updates. You present a great story in the world and you’re view on it is excellent. Keep it coming!

    • 26 Shadowmarth
      October 16, 2009 at 13:51

      The difference in lighting might also be due to the fact that human eyes need some time to adjust themselves to light in someones surrounding.
      With that in mind, it would most likely mean that in the first three panels, Hani’s eyes are adjusting to the darkness.
      In the four middle panels she is tuned to the light around the High Priestess.
      Which would make er surrounding by contrast more dark.
      And thus in the last 3 panels she would have her sights adjusted to a point in which night elfs normally see at night.

      Sadly i don’t have a mayor in elven biology, so i could be wrong.

  16. 27 Ragefury
    October 16, 2009 at 13:20

    I’d say the 3 last panes are a little too bright compared to the previous ones. Maybe it’s due to incoming dawn? In such case it’s more fitting.

    I don’t really get what the High Priestess is trying to say, but from what I can tell of this page she wants Hani to reflect upon her past deeds for whatever reason only Nhani knows about, as we haven’t got that far into the story to have learned much about Hani’s past. If you ask me, the High Priestess in Hani’s dreams reminds alot of Argent Confessor Paletress, but in a slight different way.

    And, umm, Hani undressed … I’ll be going now ;P

    • 28 Nhani
      October 16, 2009 at 14:35

      Like NikNak says, the last three panes are in a different context from the rest of the page, so I felt it made more sense that they’re very early morning rather than middle of the night. Plus, I felt it helped separate the dream from reality.

      As for the dreams, while each and every one tends to have its own specific purpose, I’d like to think there’s a set of themes that tend to run through all of them. As for what exactly they are or what their purpose is – either for each or all together.. I like to keep them ambiguous – part because explaining them would ruin all the mystery, part because I’m actually really curious what explanations people come up with ;)

      • October 16, 2009 at 17:34

        After reading some in the war of the ancients triologi (on 2nd book now) it got to my attention that some of the night elves (druids, but i like to think that because of Tyrande’s actions in the war of the ancients and her recent raise as leader of the night elves made Cenarius teach her.. some of the druid’s power) can perhaps appear in other’s dreams in order to aid them, would you say that this is the cause, or is it just normal “I regret doing that action” dreams?

  17. 30 saila aka wester
    October 16, 2009 at 14:08

    Nhani did you import the woule Building this time?
    into the animator program?

    • 31 Nhani
      October 16, 2009 at 14:37

      Yes, I imported the whole building, and sorted out which texture goes where, and furnished it, and fixed some UVW mapping coordinates that somehow broke during the export process.

      Wish there was an easier way to do it really, but at least it was a comparably easy building to export compared to some, and even then it took me quite some time.

  18. October 16, 2009 at 15:49

    Oh, but recently a fellow roleplayer had a simple yet amazing idea to make nighttime a bit more like it should be. You need to play fullscreen with it, but that shouldn’t be a problem, for me personally fullscreen provides the best performance.
    –> Go to video options, and drag the gamma slidebar all the way to the left, to the lowest setting possible. Really makes everything darker in a way night feels more like the night. While RPing in Ashenvale, it made it all the more immersive. Heck, in the ravine in the west of Red Cloud Mesa of Mulgore, the starting area of Tauren, it gets REALLY dark. Night IRL, no lights on, that ravine at night in-game with gama on lowest, hovering health bars disabled. I got surprised by Quilboars several times because I simply didn’t notice them nearby, without the darkness feeling, eh… “artificial”! Awesome.

    No, really, you should try this. Ever since, I always put gamma on lowest late in the evening / at night, makes night feel like night and really adds to the roleplaying if doing so.

  19. 33 Silvercrow
    October 16, 2009 at 20:14

    I had have a good look at the strip this week. And in all honesty the darkness is balananced. Again I am sure this is down to me having a large screen and I can well understand the light factor being an issue possibley on lower resolutions to mine it being 24inch wide screen.

    On the darkness issue on WoW well I feel it’s one of those things you either notice or you don’t depends on how much your mind is aware of it I do feel some zones are way too bright to be night time at all and that does bother me when it is the case. I also play a couple of nightelves my main being a DK I can however forgive the programmers of WoW a little for it because when your dealing with a player base as huge as WoW has you can’t do too much with the game mechanics or the engine to make it dark and immersive as much as the Role Player in me would like it be I know that just won’t happen and it would have to still have good performance to keep other players happy.

    Nhani you mentioned darkness on Doom3 I completely get that it was also oppressive and you had no idea what was lying ahead of you. I was extremely tense playing that game and it frankly in places due to it’s atmosphere and the fact your stuck on this godforsaken planet millons of miles from earth dealing with aliens deamons, whatever you call them from hell was just so unevering and I hated it even more on levels where the lighting would just go out as soon as you moved too far into a room and then all hell would break lose I constantly used the rifle since it was the only gun to have a flashlight on it that worked for a decent amount of time. Awsome game and does do “Dark” well

    As for the page excellent and the High Priestesses words where intresting the other thing with her is I always have wondered with Tyrande is is there something more to her than the lore in WoW gives away. I am sure she’s still got a lot more to do in the future in game and one other thing the eyes on her on the strip certainly made me look directly at her. Class work :)

  20. 34 Iasion
    October 16, 2009 at 20:39

    Man, Hani is built! Even for a Night Elf.

    I mean that in a positive way. ^_^

  21. 36 weertangel
    October 16, 2009 at 20:41

    As usual, a great page!, i’m beginning to wonder what kind of things Hani must have done to get these dreams the whole time, really messes up your sleep that’s for sure.

    About dark games i personally love The Chronicles of riddick: Escape of Butcher bay, before u get your eyeshine and even afterwards u really see nothing! is even 1 part where u are looking for a radio(the divine voicebox) in narrow with a shotgun mounted flashlight that has less then 10 min remaining power in it, and in those confusing tunnels without a map and crwling with mutated humans, u really get the this paniked feeling as u hear how les and less time u have, really love it! as well as Doom3 ofc :)

    And about oblivion, RPG’s should be 3rd person,unless i’m blasting away with a rifle, i really don’t want to dodge and weave with a sword in first person view,reason i never got the game in the first place.

    • 37 Synchronizor
      October 16, 2009 at 21:14

      Oblivion can be played in 3rd person, and switching from 3rd to first is as easy as it is in WoW (I usually keep camera zoom on the scroll wheel, just zoom all the way in to switch to first person).

      That allowed you to explore in 3rd person and let you enjoy your shiny armor, but first person was usually the best for combat, especially when you were trying to aim a bow.

  22. October 16, 2009 at 21:20

    Nhani, again a very very well made page.
    I like how despite Hani’s thoughness and Amazon beheaviour she is still a very vulnerable charecture, emotionally wise.
    Basicly for guys like me, i guess, you want to reach out to Hani and say ‘There there, it’s ok, we’re here for you.’
    i like the charecture development and i even dare say this webcomic has the best of it from any other save Looking for Group and Cru the Dwarf, and that’s because your on same level.
    So here’s to you Nhani, keep it up!

  23. 39 Illidan
    October 17, 2009 at 10:22

    Dunno, I can’t see absolutely anything in the first pannel and only a shoulder and an ear in the second…

    • 40 Ilyara
      October 17, 2009 at 10:48

      You may need to recalibrate your monitor settings then: especially gamma. There are a few websites online that can help you with this.

      • 41 Nhani
        October 17, 2009 at 11:38

        This, pretty much; though it might also simply be that you have a low-luminance monitor.

        The laptop I use as my primary PC, for example, has a built in screen that, while having a really awesome maximum resolution for a screen that small, is optimized for size and minimal power consumption and is as a result very dark; I can make out the top two panes on it, but just barely. As a comparison, I have a 24″ widescreen beast of a monitor that I use instead when sitting at home (it was the smallest affordable monitor size I could find that could handle the same max resolution as the laptop, heh) and on it.. the first two panes actually almost look like they might be too bright.

        Brightness is a very subjective thing however that depends on the person, the screen and ambient background light all; if we take the discussion about Oblivion between me and Synchronizor earlier you have a good prime example where one person finds Oblivion so dark that you need to have a torch in it, and another who consider the torches useless items because they (well, I) have no problem navigating it even when it’s at its darkest.

        I try to strike a balance when I light the scenes, but ultimately I have two screens that sit on opposite extremes of the brightness spectrum. Best I can do out of that is guess.

  24. 42 Moltrazahn
    October 17, 2009 at 16:17

    Nhani Nhani Nhani tsk tsk… how many times we have to tell you to relax and do this at your own time :) as said before “Real life comes first” and several of us are fans of you and your hobby. Do take a deep breath and a vacation if you need to :D your works well worth the wait ^^

    As for the comic, i like this page! its been a while since we’ve seen Tyrande and hani having some of their cryptic discussions ^^ so yay for that.

  25. 43 Tapwn
    October 17, 2009 at 21:27

    Man I -REALLY- wanna know why Hani keeps having those dreams. I mean, at first I kinda had my suspicions >.> But now it’s just too ominous for that answer.

  26. 44 saila aka wester
    October 17, 2009 at 22:03

    i wounder will we ever see this scean in full movie rendering?
    maybe i sould do that when i done learned all about animation att school to do that.
    i meen how hard can it be? exept that it will take an long time.
    … and Nhani i just know you will say its hard.

    • 45 Nhani
      October 17, 2009 at 22:16

      Well, the technology and methodology behind it isn’t all that difficult really – you just set key animation frames rotating bones around, dragging morph sliders and so forth. Making things move on the screen is relatively easy with most 3d rendering studios.

      What actually is hard is the acting part – the bit where every character have their own personality, their own mannerisms and their own reactions to things – and then letting that speak through the characters, while still making animations look alive and fluid rather than stiff and giving things a proper sense of weight and gravity.

      Let’s face it, it takes like five minutes to learn how to use Auto Key, the time slider and move, zoom or rotation tools to make an animation in 3ds Max; learning to make animations with weight and personality – that look alive – can take over five years. And like acting, most animators have their own styles, strengths and skill sets.

      • 46 Kimico
        September 1, 2010 at 08:06

        Well I think you’ve mastered it! Dream Tyrande looks so real and well… holy! If skills with model viewer can get any better than that then I’d like so see people try!

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Beyond the Tree is based on (when not directly using) the art resources and story setting of World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment.

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