We want you. Yes, you. Right now, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is recruiting willing enlistees to submit their personal or family memorabilia from World War I, with the opportunity to have these memories immortalized in the upcoming game. Two winners will be selected from entries submitted via the game’s social channels (see below for links). The winners will have their digitized items – which can be documents (letters, postcards, diary entries), period photographs, or photographed objects (dog tags, historical artifacts) – integrated into Valiant Hearts as a collectible object.
While the contest is a great way to involve the community in the development of Valiant Hearts, it also directly dovetails with one of the game’s central elements. Story is at the core of this heartfelt game about survival and sacrifice, love and loss, all set against the backdrop of the Great War. And though the game has stylized 2D hand-drawn visuals, it’s firmly rooted in reality. “From the conceptualization phase and up to and including our current development phase, Valiant Hearts has always taken inspiration from stories and events from our own families’ past as well as the families of countless others,” says Content Director Yoan Fanise. “Valiant Hearts is very story- and character-driven, so we were looking to highlight these aspects through community interaction and involvement in building the Valiant Hearts story.”
The winners will have their items illustrated by the game’s art director, Paul Tumelaire. When the item is found and clicked on in the game, a window will reveal details about the collectible, including (but not limited to) the owner’s name, a personal anecdote, historical info, and the name of the individual who submitted the item. “Paul is constantly using digitized memorabilia and photos from the 1914–1918 era to inspire his in-game illustrations,” Fanise says. “The Valiant Stories contest is an exciting opportunity for people to share their World War I memorabilia and stories, and to have an influence on the actual content of the game.”
What exactly is the team looking for in a winning entry? First, it has to fit within Valiant Heart’s narrative structure and Western Front setting. But it’s not just the item itself – a personal story with a strong connection to the item will go a long way. That said, there’s no need to focus on finding something obscure. “A contest entry could be something seemingly ordinary, like a postcard recounting a fascinating anecdote or piece of news,” Fanise says. “Or it could be more elaborate, such as sculpted artillery shells or ‘trench art’ like a decorated cigarette lighters.” The key is to submit something that looks interesting, has an interesting story and “highlights the serendipitous aspect of collectibles.” In other words, it has to fit within the game’s world while standing out as something worth discovering.
The winners will join good company. Fanise, for example, has several of his own items in Valiant Hearts. “Besides the postcards, letters and objects that belonged to my own great-grandfather, Félix Chazal, we are also including memorabilia from other dev team members and Ubisoft colleagues,” he says. “For example, one of the in-game collectibles that we’re including is a quite simple looking mess kit that belonged to a relative of Xavier Poix [Director of Studios (France)]. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that there are two indentations. Well, those marks were left by shrapnel! A note handwritten by his great-grandfather explains what happened: This mess kit saved my life on May 3, 1916, around the area of Vaux Fort. It was in my supply bag, at about the level of my belt, and it protected me from the pieces of shrapnel that struck me in the lower back. These are the types of souvenirs that tell a personal, individualized ‘Valiant Story,’ and we’re excited to see what memorabilia and stories Valiant Hearts fans are going to submit to the contest!”
Enter the contest on the Valiant Hearts Facebook page or Valiant Hearts Tumblr. The contest runs through February 28, 2014. Participants must be 18 years or older, and will need a valid Facebook or Tumblr account to enter.
Head to the Western Front fully armed with these Valiant Hearts stories: