Student launches game developed in PowerPoint


Jack McClellan

Jack Strait (left) pictured while showing “Roche Limit” to Luke Timmerman (center) and Kaleb Dumbeck (right) in the College of DEsign.

Iowa State saw the official launch night of “Roche Limit” this weekend, a game developed almost entirely on Microsoft PowerPoint by senior in architecture, Jack Strait.

“Roche Limit” is a point and click style, choose-your-own-adventure game that utilizes unconventional storytelling to immerse its audience in an uneasy, suspenseful atmosphere.

The term ‘roche limit’ refers to the minimum distance a celestial body can be within the body it is orbiting, without the tidal gravity overcoming the body’s internal gravity that holds it together. As players progress through the game, their attention is brought to a celestial occurrence that parallels the player’s actions in the game.

People interested in playing “Roche Limit” could reserve time slots to come into the College of Design and play through the game on a big screen projector.

Strait had spent the day prior to the launch event setting up the room he had reserved, stocking it with a minifridge full of beverages, some snacks and mood lighting.

Kaleb Dombeck, a senior majoring in management information systems and an attendee of the launch, said he overall enjoyed the opportunity to play the game.

“Overall, I love these types of games just because the story was so ambitious, and you didn’t really know where it was gonna go; it never really had a dedicated result,” Dombeck said. “It wasn’t anything that was super out there and specific of like, ‘Oh, I know how this is gonna end,’ and that’s kind of why I liked it.”

Dombeck also said the way Strait set up the room for the event added to the experience, fitting quite well into the mood of the game.

“I like the vibe a lot,” Dombeck said. “I think it definitely fits the mood of the game too. I’ve never been to a video game premier. This is a good first impression, I suppose.”

Luke Timmerman, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering and another attendee of the launch, said he was equally intrigued by the technical aspects of the game as he was by the story itself.

“I have a mind that likes to figure out what’s going on in the backend,” Timmerman said. “I really enjoyed playing it and trying to think of how it was actually made in PowerPoint or how things were hyperlinked together.”

Overall, Strait received positive feedback from each of the attendees who played the game. The most significant feedback, however, came before the game’s launch from Andrew Gleeson, an assistant teaching professor in architecture and Strait’s mentor for the independent study.

Jack Strat (right) pictured along side his mentor for the independent study, Andrew Gleeson (left). (Jack McClellan)

Gleeson said that he was very impressed with the work Strait put into the game and very happy with the end result.

“I always like to take on independent seniors who have their own ideas,” Gleeson said. “I don’t treat myself as like a teacher, but more like a guide.”

Academically speaking, Gleeson said Strait drew plenty of architectural lessons from designing the game and the building it is centered around. Gleeson also stressed the importance of sequencing and the way Strait used space and time within the game.

“Jack has always had ridiculous inner momentum,” Gleeson said. “He’s just tireless; he’s always completely obsessed with what he’s working on. I didn’t have to tell him, ‘Oh you need to get back on schedule.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I got all this stuff to show you.’”

Strait said it was a relief to receive such a good reaction from people experiencing the game for the first time.

“I remember I had once let one of my other friends play it, and I couldn’t decide if he hated it or if he was way too tired when I let him play it,” Strait said. “So, there was always like a little tiny chance that I was going to get that reaction.”

Strait said that after having dedicated so much time and effort towards building the game, he was left without an idea of how to fill his time.

“I think it’s something you definitely look forward to, and then you get there and you’re like, ‘Oh, what now,’” Strait said. “I remember after [Gleeson’s] final review, I think I just laid on my bed and looked at the ceiling just like, ‘What? I don’t have anything to do.’”

For more information on “Roche Limit,”  visit Strait’s Instagram page for the game.