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A videogame developer's love letter to his son; an adventure game to inspire us to love each other; a voice for those fighting cancer.
A videogame developer's love letter to his son; an adventure game to inspire us to love each other; a voice for those fighting cancer.
3,687 backers pledged $104,491 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$104,491

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"A poetic, emotionally intense story of love in the face of death, blended beautifully into a point-and-click adventure game" ~ Jessica Conditt, joystiq.com

We created That Dragon, Cancer to tell the story of our son Joel and his 4-year fight against cancer. Our desire is to craft an adventure game that is poetic, playful, full of imagination and of hope. This is how we choose to honor him and his memory.

- Ryan and Amy Green

Ready. Set. Go!
Ready. Set. Go!

As players explore the five physical spaces in the game, they will unlock our memories, hear our thoughts, and discover the joy of Joel's laughter as they play through our family’s experience fighting this terrible dragon called Cancer.  

The game is designed in the style of a 3d point-and-click adventure game, without the puzzles.  The objective of the player is not to solve problems, but simply to be present in each moment. We have intentionally kept the controls simple to remain accessible to both core-gamers, casual-gamers, and non-gamers alike.

Move left stick/mouse to look around, press a button to perform an action based on the cursor.
Move left stick/mouse to look around, press a button to perform an action based on the cursor.

The rich audio environments and simple interactions create a beautiful, narrative experience, free from time constraints, that encourages players to take their time.

Though the dragon does not appear in the game, his violence is felt everywhere, which makes the gameplay an emotionally trying experience, but one we're told enriches the lives of those who have played it.

"... But in That Dragon, Cancer, I found something I never expected to find at E3: a game that made me more hopeful, not just about the potential games have as a storytelling medium, but about humanity, as well." ~ Carolyn Petit, gamespot.com

"That Dragon, Cancer delivered perhaps the most raw time I've ever spent with a video game. When it launches, it may redefine the form." ~ Sam Machkovech, Tech Reporter for Ars Technica

Jon's involvement from the beginning of our project has enabled us to fill That Dragon, Cancer with a rich, cinematic, and immersive soundscape not often found in independent games.

His ability as a composer, sound designer, and programmer, makes him an integral member of the team.  Jon composes, arranges, and records the music in the game, featuring experienced studio musicians recorded live using his own custom-built hardware.

Sample Track - "The Path"

"I don't know what else I will remember about this show, which things are going to stick, but this one has already set up shop. Brenna and I do not talk about videogames, except to argue about how much of them our children should play, but we talked about this one for an hour." ~ Jerry (Tycho) Holkins, penny-arcade.com

Our Team, in association with OUYA, is committed to bringing That Dragon, Cancer to the widest audience possible at release. We are excited to announce that we will be bringing "That Dragon, Cancer" to the OUYA and Desktop Computers when we launch.
Our Team, in association with OUYA, is committed to bringing That Dragon, Cancer to the widest audience possible at release. We are excited to announce that we will be bringing "That Dragon, Cancer" to the OUYA and Desktop Computers when we launch.

The last two years of our lives have brought the game into clear focus, and now feels like the right time to engage the community of people who have always believed that games matter and that modern games can have an even bigger cultural impact.

Kickstarter is the perfect platform to partner with with all of you who have so passionately supported this game, and include you in the story itself through backer rewards.

As we have shared the game with over 1500 players over the last two years, we have realized that while the details of Joel's story may be personal, the feelings, questions, and experiences his story unearths are universal. There are many places in the game where we would like to show that Joel's story is representative of many similar stories. Through Kickstarter we can add your stories to the game environments.

You may choose to add on a memorial token to any backer level to be included in the game. These can be made in your own family's honor, on behalf of someone you know (with their permission), or the space can be donated to friends of the project that we have gained along the way.

You may provide an ink based hand or footprint that we will use to grace the walls of our virtual hospital recovery room representing those who have battled chronic illness and survive, or for those who have experienced loss.

Alternatively you may choose to provide a short message of 50 characters to be imprinted on the tiles of the hospital hallway floors.

You may choose to receive a key to download copy of the game through the OUYA Storefront or for Windows or Mac desktop computers through the Steam Storefront. 

A copy of the game, plus receive Jon Hillman’s immersive, cinematic soundtrack as a digital download and, a special (exclusive to backers) bonus track EP with extra music and spoken word tracks that didn't make the cut, plus you may choose from a selection of exclusive posters and desktop/mobile wallpapers to be delivered to your email box, 

Sample Poster Concept
Sample Poster Concept

A copy of the game, exclusive digital wallpaper and poster, the soundtrack, the bonus EP, plus you will receive early access to play the first scene that we ever created for the game, remastered for use in the game's final release.  

A copy of the game, exclusive digital wallpaper and poster, the soundtrack, the bonus EP, early access to demo scene, plus you will receive access to our behind-the-scenes website that features Lost Levels: scripts, notes, and Twine prototypes from scenes that didn’t make the cut; 

First twine prototype we created
First twine prototype we created

Absent art: a collection of 3d concept art images depicting scenes not in the game; and Team Talk: a curated collection of team conversations throughout development. Working remotely made for some long, late night, online conversations that were at times, emotional, hilarious, inspiring and just plain odd. 

Everything in behind the scenes, plus you will be invited to participate in developer play through and feedback sessions online via Google Hangouts. You will become part of the development process. You will receive a PATRON CONSULTANT credit in the game.

Everything in behind the scenes, plus reserve an in-game picture frame in the hospital for your own art, or someone else's art. 

Players can select a particular picture to inspect as they approach. The camera will move close enough for the image to fill the screen, and the title of the image may be displayed in text floating near the frame.
Players can select a particular picture to inspect as they approach. The camera will move close enough for the image to fill the screen, and the title of the image may be displayed in text floating near the frame.

Art can commemorate a loved one, represent a memory, be a child's drawing, or just be a beautiful image. You or the artist will receive a FEATURED ARTIST title in the credits and you will receive a PATRON OF THE ARTS credit. (Please read our content guidelines before backing)

You will receive everything in behind the scenes, plus reserve an in-game message in a bottle for players to discover. 

You or another writer may write up to 250 words of your thoughts and feelings during a difficult season in your life, to be included in a prominent scene in the game amidst other messages. You or the Writer will receive a FEATURED WRITER title in the credits, and you will receive a PATRON PUBLISHER credit (Please read our content guidelines before backing)

You will receive everything in behind the scenes, plus present the game with the team at a game conference for a day. (Travel must occur at your expense.) You will be given an exhibitor’s badge and hang out with and help the team all day as we present the game. (Please contact us before backing at this level to discuss our expected conference schedule in 2015)

You will receive everything in behind the scenes, plus we will encode your dog into the game for Joel's avatar to interact with!  

Of all of Joel's favorite things, we are convinced that dogs were his absolute favorite.  If there was a dog around, Joel wanted to pet it, and squeeze it, and let it lick his hands.

 We've already been working on a scene where you get to play catch with Joel and a service dog that visited him in the hospital.  We see absolutely no reason why the game shouldn't be full of dogs!

We can think of nothing he would have liked more, and we thank you for your generous support. You will receive an PATRON SAINT credit for your donation.

In-progress animations to bring dogs in the game to life.
In-progress animations to bring dogs in the game to life.

 Content Guidelines:

Our intention for adding your content to our game is to give you a place to honor those you love, to share your heart, pain, comfort or beauty you find in the midst of all of it. This is a space for personal testimony. It is not intended for self-promotion, or to advance political, corporate or medical cause. To fit into our game, your work should not contain inappropriate, obscene, pornographic, or hateful content.

In short, our desire is that the content adds to the spirit of the work. And we would like to work with you to ensure it does.

Also, make sure you have the right to submit the piece of art or written word.  We want to make ensure the proper artists are credited for the amazing work they do and that we have the releases necessary to authorize us to display the work.

If you have any questions about this, please reach out to us, before backing!

A significant portion of the game has already been developed, and the entire game is now planned out from start to finish. We have just three scenes left to build, followed by the process of polishing and refining the game as a whole.

The remainder of savings from our teams' families won’t be enough to finish the game, which we're estimating will take roughly eight months.

We need a total of $145k to finish this game. Raising $85k through Kickstarter will leave us with about $70k after Kickstarter's fees and the cost of the rewards. If the campaign reaches its goal, the remaining $75k will come from a private loan (up to $25k) and Indie Fund, a group of successful game developers who support the growth of games as a medium (up to $50k). If the campaign exceeds its goal, our private investment will provide the remaining budget. The success of this campaign will allow our team to finish the game by mid-2015.

David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall are Documentary filmmakers who are making a film about the creation of our game in association with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and ITVS to be released in 2015.
David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall are Documentary filmmakers who are making a film about the creation of our game in association with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and ITVS to be released in 2015.

Watch the Teaser Trailer

 "Not only did this move beyond my expectations for a videogame but also seemed to have no reference point in books or films. What Green and his team have started to create will certainly invite new kinds of people to take an interest in videogames." ~ Andy Robertson, forbes.com 

That Dragon, Cancer has been written about or featured in these major news outlets:

Ryan Green is Joel's Dad, and is an indie videogame developer and freelance application developer with 15 years professional experience.  That Dragon, Cancer has given Ryan the chance to take on a new role as 3d modeler and concept artist along with writing, voice over, and programming.  Ryan worked for Soma Games as a developer lead for 2 years and DaVita, a fortune 500 dialysis provider, for 10 years as a developer and software architect.

Amy Green is Joel's Mom, and a writer and speaker, but her most important job is being mother to her and (Ryan's) other three incredible sons, Caleb, Isaac and Elijah, and new daughter Zoe Grace. She is passionate about her role in storyboarding, narrative concepts, co-writing and voice over work in That Dragon, Cancer.

Josh Larson is a videogame developer and interaction designer pursuing a vision for deeply meaningful, faith-based experiences that leave a lasting impact on people. As an artist, designer, and programmer, he has spent 15 years in multimedia, including freelance work on projects for Intel, Jaguar Land Rover, Comedy Central, and Columbia University; and the last 9 years developing commercial videogames for a variety of platforms.

Jon Hillman is a composer and sound designer with over 10 years professional experience. He started playing piano at the age of four, and his life has revolved around music and sound ever since. Seeing incredible potential for interactive audio, That Dragon, Cancer gives Jon a great opportunity to explore and learn in the context of a truly meaningful experience.

Ryan Cousins is a 3d artist who started off his career with Midway Games and has moved into the TV realm working for Nickelodeon. A strong passion for lighting and 3d has tied his professional career together for the past 7 years. His passion for games and telling compelling stories has led him back into the gaming scene working on That Dragon, Cancer.

Mike Perrotto is a software developer with over 14 years professional experience whom also enjoys voice-over acting and project and development management. He has built and managed teams both onshore and offshore for over 30 developers, QA analysts and configuration managers. His heart is in the creation of video games and is very excited to be focusing more time in that arena by working closely with the team in a Project Management role on That Dragon, Cancer.

Risks and challenges

The biggest risk to our project is a delay beyond mid-2015. If our Kickstarter succeeds, this will be unlikely, for a variety of reasons.

First, Ryan and Josh have developed and shipped several videogame titles before and know the work involved in finishing a game, including within more limited hardware limitations like the OUYA console. This is not our first shipped title as individuals, but it is as a company.

Second, to reduce risk as much as possible, we have the entire game planned from start to finish. Most of it is already built, and most of what’s built is beyond a crude prototype stage. We've estimated our remaining development time based on previous building and polishing tasks for this game, plus we've allotted extra time for unforeseen issues, such as with QA for the PC.

Lastly, this estimate includes several deadlines that allow us to track overall progress. In the unlikely event we miss a deadline and aren't able to catch up on our own, we'll notify our backers as soon as we're aware of this problem and seek help to provide as small a delay as possible.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD: Receive a copy of the game for yourself or as a gift for a loved one, delivered at launch on OUYA or PC (Windows, Mac, and Linux) via Humble and/or Steam download code.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF SOUNDTRACK + DIGITAL POSTER + SPECIAL KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE EP: A copy of the game, exclusive digital wallpaper and poster, plus receive Jon Hillman’s immersive, cinematic soundtrack as a digital download, plus a special (exclusive to backers) bonus track EP with extra music and spoken word tracks that didn't make the cut.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD + MEMORIAL ADD-ON: A copy of the game, plus we will add an image of a ink/paint based hand print, or foot print, of you or a loved one into the recovery room in the game. Optionally you may choose a 50 character message to be included in a tile on the floor of the hallway of the in-game hospital. You may also choose to add this add-on to any backer reward in this campaign, see the Backer Reward Section for details.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    EARLY ACCESS TO THE ORIGINAL DEMO SCENE: A copy of the game, exclusive digital wallpaper and poster, the soundtrack, the bonus EP, plus receive early access to the first scene we created for the game and have only shown at conferences and to members of the press.

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    86 backers
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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    BEHIND THE SCENES: A copy of the game, exclusive digital wallpaper and poster, the soundtrack, the bonus EP, early access to demo scene, plus receive access to our behind-the-scenes website that features Lost Levels: scripts, notes, and Twine prototypes from scenes that didn’t make the cut; Absent Art: a collection of 3d concept art images depicting scenes not in the game; and Team Talk: a curated collection of team conversations throughout development. Working remotely made for some long, late night, online conversations that were at times, emotional, hilarious, inspiring and just plain odd.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    PATRON CONSULTANT: Everything in behind the scenes, plus participate in developer play through and feedback sessions online via Google Hangouts. You will become part of the development process. You will receive a PATRON CONSULTANT credit in the game.

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    Reward no longer available 30 backers
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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    PATRON OF THE ARTS: Everything in behind the scenes, plus reserve an in-game picture frame in the hospital for your own art, or someone else's art. Art can commemorate a loved one, represent a memory, be a child's drawing, or just be a beautiful image. You or the artist will receive a FEATURED ARTIST title in the credits and you will receive a PATRON OF THE ARTS credit. (Please read our content guidelines before backing)

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    PATRON PUBLISHER: Everything in behind the scenes, plus reserve an in-game message in a bottle for players to discover. You or another writer may write up to 250 words of your thoughts and feelings during a difficult season in your life, to be included in a prominent scene in the game amidst other messages. You or the Writer will receive a FEATURED WRITER title in the credits, and you will receive a PATRON PUBLISHER credit (Please read our content guidelines before backing)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    PATRON PRODUCER & DEV TEAM MEMBER FOR A DAY: Everything in behind the scenes, plus present the game with the team at a game conference for a day. (Travel at backer’s expense.) You will be given an exhibitor’s badge and hang out with and help the team all day as we present the game. (Please contact us before backing at this level to discuss our expected conference schedule in 2015)

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    Pledge $4,000 or more About $4,000

    PATRON SAINT BERNARD: Everything in behind the scenes, plus we will encode your favorite dog into the game for Joel's avatar to interact with! Of all of Joel's favorite things, we are convinced that dogs were his absolute favorite. If there was a dog around, Joel wanted to pet it, and squeeze it, and let it lick his hands. We can think of nothing he would have liked more, and we thank you for your generous support. You will receive an PATRON SAINT credit for your donation.

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    Limited 1 backer
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Funding period

- (30 days)