In Focus: The Duo

At the heart of Beyond the Tree – past graphics, art style, plot and everything – lies the duo. Hani Foonmall and Rei Tiny, a mismatched pairing of two individuals – both outcasts in their own particular ways – who in spite of all their differences stick together. Of all elements in Beyond the Tree, I can think of none so essential as that of the duo itself.

Thematically, it’s simple – they compliment eachother. Hani is tall, strong, physically able but often distant, Tiny is small and seemingly harmless, but loud and vocally assertive. Combine them into a single character and you risk getting a character that’ll do nothing but bash heads and spout oneliners. Split them appart, and you suddenly gain a wealth of space for interesting dynamic.

The very concept that Beyond the Tree built on – long before it even had a name – is the duo. The contrast between the tall Hani and the loud Tiny. In the first incarnation, Tiny served as a narrator – the chronicler to speak for her larger and more direct friend. As I reformed the characters into their present incarnations, I felt I needed to have them more equal. With Hani being the one who takes the steps, fights the battles and ultimately is the one with the greatest instinct towards “doing what is right” – however misguided – it’s very easy for her to end up the lead, with Tiny being little but comic foil. I didn’t want that, and it’s a continous effort to try and balance between them so that neither feels superfluous. Hani needs Tiny. Tiny needs Hani. I really want there to be an undertone that the duo would fare much worse if the other wasn’t there to steady them.

And yet the pairing is tragic, in a sense. When Hani finds herself lost in thought, Tiny distracts her back into the present – and onto less depressing things. When Tiny is bothered, upset or afraid, Hani tells her things will be just fine and that there’s no reason to worry. They feed eachother’s issues and prevent the other from actually having to deal with their problems. It’s an interesting element, and while one that perhaps isn’t the most apparent, is one I’ve been trying to sneak in whenever possible.

Beyond the tree is the Misadventures of Hani and Tiny – for all the supporting characters we pick up, for all the plot hooks and events we go through, the duo remains the key. Focus might shift back and forth between them, or possibly even off them every so often, but the duo is the duo. Neither can just say enough is enough and jump off the ride.


2 Responses to “In Focus: The Duo”

  1. 1 Illidan
    April 29, 2009 at 15:04

    Brilliant overview and amazing description of the duo’s nature and it’s importance for the plot!
    Great job! 🙂

  2. 2 Iasion
    April 30, 2009 at 00:04

    I see the dilemma you face by trying to keep the characters equal and not having either become a support.

    I think the best you’ve been able to achieve this balance is through Te’len. So far, Hani’s history has been a bit more fleshed out. We see that she has some sort of pivotal relationship with Tyrande- a Warcraft hero. This partially leaked story, plus its involvement with a big name, easily pushes her forward.

    By contrast we don’t really know anything about Tiny outside of her relationships with Hani and Te’len. The events where we see dialogue between Tiny and Te’len help level the playing field, as Hani seems to reduce in importance.

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