LASERWAR game statistics collection systems
Laser tag is one of the most dynamically developing and technologically sophisticated military-tactical and sports games of recent times. Retracing the history of its evolution, we will see that the advent of new technologies provides an immediate impact on gaming laser tag equipment. Reduction in the overall dimensions and multiple growths of electronics capabilities, weight loss and increase in battery capacity, new optical systems, wireless communication technologies – today's laser tag is strikingly different from the laser tag of a decade ago.
With technological development, the players' needs are also growing – the market requires new solutions and revolutionary approaches to the development of the devices from manufacturers of laser tag equipment.
One of the most important laser tag features is to ensure the integrity and transparency of the game at the hardware level. Manufacturers of laser tag equipment strive to include in game sets and additional devices as many as possible abilities to identify the player, to recognize his status in the game, interacting only with active, «live» players, to process the current game statistics and unambiguously determine the winner. This shifts the role of the game arbiter to the equipment, releasing players from sharp disputes and saving them from mutual claims and petty squabbles. Players should take pleasure of the game, while the dispassionate and incorruptible electronics will determine the best of them. Information from all game sets is flocking in a consolidated report – game statistics, using the results of which it is not difficult to decide the winner of the laser tag battle.
How the collection of game information and control of the game takes place, will be covered in this article.
Today LASERWAR produces the fullest range of equipment that supports all three systems of statistics collection and game management – ONLINE, OFFLINE and RealTime statistics. Each of them was created for specific game conditions and best suits the requirements of entrepreneurs and players.
Outdoor laser tag with a milsim bias has the audience of admirers that are closer to military realism than refined fantastic arenas in shopping centers. Many clubs already have their own regular play areas, where most games take place.
By equipping the playing area with additional screens for displaying statistics and providing a stable Wi-Fi coverage, the club gets a "hybrid" arena – a game space where while using outdoor equipment you can get all the advantages of the arena: real-time display of statistics and game management, instant adjustment of game sets and setting weapon parameters, engrossing new scenarios, access to the community of players around the world and convenient software for managing the arena, including fiscal statistics.
All this became possible with the release of the 10th generation of LASERWAR equipment, which presented the long-awaited ONLINE-statistics system to the laser tag market. This system became the enhancement and logical continuation of the OFFLINE-system, preserving all its strengths and advantages while adding new features that provided familiar «out-arenage» with arena functions.
Information about the current, immediate game situation, displaying on the overview monitors, makes game more spectacular and exciting not only for players but also for numerous viewers and fans. Equipped with such a «hybrid» arena, the club gets the benefits of both «outdoor» and «indoor» laser tag, running games on both their stationary arena and changing locations at will.
But when it comes to considerable site sizes, it will be difficult to ensure stable radio coverage of the entire playing area, meaning that gaming kits, leaving the communication zone, must accumulate statistics in the internal buffer, to pass it along to the game server automatically the next time they enter the radio coverage zone.
During developing the new platform, LASERWAR engineers faced a challenging task - to provide stable and efficient radio contact between a weapon with a headband and the game server. Moreover, it was necessary to preserve the continuity of equipment generations and minimize expenses of players in the transition to the new generation. So we have solved the set tasks. Тhe X-core communication module applied in the 10th generation is for data transmission within the game set and supports two communication standards – Wi-Fi-standard 802.11n and Bluetooth v.4.2 BR/EDR and BLE.
Wi-Fi standard 802.11n with a frequency of 2.4 GHz guarantees large bandwidth capacity, high transmission rate and wide operating range of wireless network. It will provide the best performance and allow transferring tremendous amounts of information. With such a Wi-Fi standard, the module is capable of transmitting data at speeds up to 150 Mbps. Of course, the real speed will be less, but it will still reach a record 20 Mbps. Given this performance, recording the weapon parameters takes a split second. While sound recording and firmware updates will be several times faster than in previous generations of laser tag platforms. Furthermore, Wi-Fi routers are now affordable to everyone, which means that the rental clubs owners would not have to buy expensive radio bases and deploy an additional network for laser tag. Recommended routers for the «X» are available for order in LASERWAR online store.
Bluetooth v.4.2 BR/EDR and BLE standard enable our electronics to connect with mobile phones, smart watches, tablets. This will significantly enhance the abilities of organizers of large scenario laser tag games and especially individual PRO players. It is important that the connection with the game set headband is still implemented through Bluetooth. This will allow owners of 9th generation hardware to use already purchased headbands, when switching to the «X», just updating the firmware via the laser tag configurator; and replacing of the electronic board in the weapon passes without any mess because its dimensions remain the same. The expense of the transition to the «X» upon the clubs modernization program is much lower than anyone else.
A single router provides a stable data exchange over an area of more than 36,000 m2, is located in the center of the site, while the use of repeaters can multiply this area. There is no need, and sometimes the possibility to cover the entire firing ground with a Wi-Fi zone. It is enough to place access points close to teams respawns and aid kits, and all statistics will automatically be collected during the game, almost in REAL TIME mode. This variant can be easily deployed on unprepared ground, using a laptop as a control computer and routers with independent power supply.
We should also separately mention the software, that allows you to process the statistics obtained during the game with maximum efficiency and display it on external screens; swiftly distribute players into teams, defining the initial settings of game sets; monitor the equipment integrity and the level of its charge and enable instructors to start a new game with a few keystrokes.
Therefore, in the ONLINE system, the current statistics are accumulated in the game sets and periodically transfers to the central computer when the player gets into the access zone. This allows you to keep track of the game situation change during the game and receive more timely information for players and spectators. This is what distinguishes Online from RealTime. Otherwise, if you create a zone of continuous coverage of the site in Online system, then the data will be downloaded to the program at lightning speed and it would be similar to the work of the RealTime statistics. But still, the differences in the level of scenario and arena management will be in the nuances of use. Therefore, if you are opening a classic arena laser tag with a maze – then we recommend choosing Arena Cybertag equipment. And if you have a desire for versatility and something hybrid, the choice, of course, is for ONLINE LASERWAR 10th generation. The new 10th generation electronics from LASERWAR will provide the broadest gaming opportunities at an affordable price and high-quality equipment.
However, by no means all people like to play in a limited space. Many fans of laser tag are attracted by the possibility of playing games in an open area, abandoned buildings, training grounds, or simply in the forest. This gives +100 to the realism of the game and makes it truly exciting. And LASERWAR equipment gives players this opportunity.
The specific nature of the game on unequipped sites, increased requirements for battery life, and in places difficult to provide radio communications, led us to choose an option in which players do not depend on contact with the host computer at all. In this setting, all information about game events is stored in the game set until the end of the game. It consists of a headband or a vest with defeat sensors and one or two weapon units connected to it via a wireless Bluetooth connection.
Before the game stars, the statistics of the game set are reset to zero, the weapon parameters and the team colors for all players are entered. During the game, information about the number of made shots, hits to the player, the player's id that caused the damage, revivals is stored in the game's memory. At the end of the game, this data is read from all sets via a wireless Bluetooth connection and is compiled with the help of a special program that generates the final report and game protocols. Based on these summary statistics, it is not difficult to objectively identify the best players and game winners.
The OFFLINE-statistics system is implemented in 4th–9th generations of LASERWAR gaming equipment and can rightly be considered a classic of outdoor laser tag. It does not lose its relevance even today; it is used by more than 2500 clubs all around the world. A unique feature of the OFFLINE-statistics can be defined as summing up the results only at the end of the game, but it gives players the freedom in choosing a playground, a quick start without pre-registration, and allows them to play games on any unequipped territory. Some players and manufacturers consider the lack of instant statistics as a disadvantage, but most fans of such games prefer realism and are okay with the absence of ONLINE-statistics. What, say, ONLINE-statistics can be in actual combat? Only intelligence...
RealTime-mode supposes the game on a specially equipped site in the area of continuous radio coverage. All game sets are constantly under the control of the host computer, game statistics, scenario, changes in the game, weapon and player settings are read wirelessly in a hundredth of a second, and the current state of the game is displayed on the dashboards, not only near the instructor but also in the Hall, at the arena itself.
The very core of RealTime statistics lies in the fact that the central computer software controls the entire game, everything that takes place in the arena. Hitting the player – the computer processed the signal and gave the command to his vest to light up and serve out the vibration in the injury site. You hit the opponent's game base – the software has already made the arena's sound speakers play the sound «Base attacked». All management is instant for players who will never experience any delays. A special protocol, written by our developers, allows you to control the entire battlefield and transfer information through the built-in radio modules in real time from 56 game sets simultaneously. These are truly unlimited opportunities in terms of managing scenarios and the gameplay in general. Neither Wi-Fi nor MESH networks can provide such possibilities. Though coming close to them, have their own features and limitations. This is the true RealTime – it is fully implemented in our CYBERTAG system of indoor laser tag.
As far as the games are taking place in a pre-equipped stationary arena of a limited area, it becomes possible to create a continuous field of radio coverage on it, which is created by placing special devices – radio bases and game bases (multi-function devices containing, among other things, built-in radio modules). Each of these devices ensures a stable connection in a circle with a diameter of up to 317 meters, and it is necessary to place them in the arena so that there would be no zones not covered by at least one transmitter.
It is not a coincidence that we have chosen radio modules in particular for this project implementation. Working in a range coinciding with Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz), they have their own exchange protocol developed by LASERWAR specifically for RealTime statistics and fits perfectly for data exchange between the control computer and a large number of players in a limited area of the arena. Radio modules have 30 channels of information transmission, which is double the number of free Wi-Fi channels.
During the game, information from each player is instantly transmitted via the radio channel to the arena's host computer, which guides the entire course of the game (including the state of the game set – whether a player is «alive» or «not alive») in real time. It monitors all game events, displays player statistics on the dashboards, decides the winner of the game and generates a final report of game statistics.
The system is under the strict centralized control of the arena computer and our branded software. The software manages all players game sets, vests, and blasters. They are activated by the control program through the radio channel; the same program keeps records of the players' health, shots, and hits, equipment parameters, the number of games and fiscal reporting. Due to the fact that the configuration of the game sets is set up by the computer, it is possible to create complex and interesting scenarios with significant changes of the initial settings directly in the game. The leader in the scenario can be highlighted with a specific glow and be changed during the game, through the game progress the atmosphere in the hall can change, both lights and background sound – helping one of the teams. In the scenario, literally everything is changing, and changes dynamically depending on how the teams play – it is a real live arena! Such scenarios as Firefly, Terminator, Football, Spartan, Zombie Apocalypse, Vampires and Werewolves, Tag, and more, become available. All this is possible thanks to the RealTime-statistics system under the control of the arena managing software – CYBERTAG-configurator.
It's a RealTime statistics game indeed, but it requires a specially equipped playground with continuous radio coverage and its dimensions are limited. The prices of such a system are much lower than Western counterparts because it was developed in Russia by specialists of our company.
Laser tag is many-faced and many-sided, as well as an enormous number of its fans and players, each of which has their own preferences. One is closer to the fantastic world of Cybertag, others are attracted by the realism of milsim, and they prefer the harsh conditions of unequipped playgrounds. The interests of the third lie in the field of rental clubs, where spectacularity, convenience, payback and equipment survivability are the central concern.
For each of them, LASERWAR engineers and developers have developed a system that corresponds to their gaming needs and the conditions of the playgrounds as much as possible. We are of the opinion that there is no single universal solution that is equally satisfying all conditions. Different arena and training ground conditions require different, the most effective solutions and they have already been developed by us. «Hybrid» arena with ONLINE-statistics of the 10th generation and unique software, the classic outdoor system with OFFLINE-statistics on 8th-9th generation equipment or RealTime-system of arena laser tag Cybertag 2.0 – you can choose the solution that meets your needs.