Interactive Arena Elements

by The LASERTRON Team

LASERTRON Experiements with Interactive Arena Elements for Laser Tag

Every laser tag attraction operator is searching for something to make them stand out in front of their competition. With so many manufacturers of laser tag equipment over the past twenty years, there has always been something different in the marketplace. LASERTRON alone has introduced many firsts to the industry, such as our Special Modes & Power Ups, our "bumper-to-bumper" warranty or our all the time rapid fire capability.

Interactive Bases and Targets

One trend that keeps cropping up in the laser tag industry are interactive arena elements, usually bases or targets. Such interactive elements can range from simple wall units that can fire back to elaborate animatronics that can tag players or give them special powers in the game.

Many manufacturers display their interactive targets at trade shows and in their designated showplace arenas to "wow" potential operators. They use the interactive targets to attempt to differentiate their products from the field.

Industry Cycles

Such interactive targets have been around from the early days of laser tag in one form or another. The popularity of interactive elements seems to run in cycles in the laser tag manufacturing industry. Several years ago, several potential LASERTRON clients begin requesting interactive targets for their laser tag arenas.

When a potential client recommends something to us, LASERTRON seriously considers all the possibilities and works to develop the best possible solutions to developing the new product or game feature. We continue to devote a significant amount of research and development to creating the ultimate interactive targets for our LASERTRON Laser Tag game system.

At LASERTRON, we have tried several methods of adding interactive targets and devices to the laser tag arena. In fact, for over a year, we had interactive targets in our own arena in Amherst, New York. These units would occasionally tag players, and they rewarded the players that tagged them at the right time with bonus points.

Some Ideas Sound So Cool, But They Still Don't Work

Unfortunately, for all their good intentions, these interactive elements did not add value to the laser tag game experience for the average player. It is difficult to create an interactive device that is not confusing to some if not all of your players. This results in many problems that are impossible to solve. We experienced all of these problems at our facility with the interactive devices we designed:

  1. Players may be deactivated or tagged by an animate object they aren't aware of. This creates frustration. The player may come to a referee and indicate their vest is broken when it's not, resulting in more frustration.
  2. Some players will begin avoiding areas of the laser tag arena where the interactive elements are located because they do not understand their operation or because they have tagged them too many times. This results in overcrowding of other areas in the arena while other areas are empty. This overcrowding devalues the arena and can create safety issues due to "bottle-necking."
  3. Players may tag the interactive target at the wrong time, thinking they are receiving special powers or bonus points when they receive none. At the end of the game, they are once again frustrated at not having received what they thought they earned.
  4. Worse than the confusion of newer laser tag players, experienced players will understand fully how these devices operate in the game. They will often be able to use these items to their continued advantage. After all, if tagging a certain interactive target at a certain time results in a special power or big bonus points, your best players will figure out how to do it. The high scores of a few players adds to the frustration of regular players.
  5. It is impossible to program the interactive devices to take into account the wide range of each player's abilities. To create an excellent interactive device, we had to put a lot of effort into making the device extreme for the best players, but simple and forgiving for the new players.

The devices in our own laser tag arena were not having the desired effect and we knew we had to go back to the drawing board. We felt that interactive devices could enhance our laser tag game, but they needed to be more human-like.

Back to the Drawing Board

Our new goal was to create the most advanced human-like Cyborg possible. We wanted to create a fast moving Cyborg that would randomly appear within the arena -- a Cyborg that had special power-ups and the ability to selectively chase after opposing players. Each Cyborg would also have the ability to change shapes and skills to attack unsuspecting opposing players. Of course, we designed special Cyborgs for both teams otherwise the game would be unbalanced. In fact Cyborgs could also attack the opposing team's Cyborgs and tag them as well.

The Cyborgs were great, but they cost over $1,000,000 a piece. And the maintenance? Don't even ask. We knew we had to find a solution that was realistic and got the job done. After much thought we figured out a way to develop Cyborgs that were free, in fact we even figured out a way to get the Cyborgs to pay us money for the privilege of chasing after and deactivating opposing players. We called our new "Cyborgs" customers and we created the Special Modes & Power Ups Power-ups.

The players in our laser tag games easily create a much more interesting interactive arena element than any interactive element we could hope to design. Game play alone is good enough for laser tag if you build it the right way. LASERTRON has spent the past several years fine-tuning our laser tag game play to make it the best in the world. This quality and consistency of game play has kept players coming back to LASERTRON laser tag arenas for many years. In fact our LASERTRON center has now been in operation for 27 plus years.

Based on our experience, interactive arena devices and targets do not enhance the playing experience for the average player or beginner. What does dramatically enhance the experience is LASERTRON's Special Modes & Power Ups.

Special Modes & Power Upss

Instead of interactive arena targets, we developed Special Modes & Power Ups Modes to enhance the laser tag player experience. Special Modes & Power Ups deliver power-ups equally to both teams, creating a fair and balanced laser tag game. Click here to read more about the philosophy behind the Special Modes & Power Ups.

Always an Exception

There are certain situations where it might make sense to create interactive targets. These are options with the LASERTRON LT-12 Laser Tag System. For instance, you can designate an energizer to tag opposing players. This keeps the other team from controlling your recharge station. This a game setting available to every LASERTRON operator.

We have also developed an event-based handicapping system that can only affect certain players in certain situations. For instance, if you want to control base tagging in the game, you can establish a threshold before the handicapping kicks in. The threshold looks at the individual player's score, their number of base tags, and their team's situation before deciding to interact with the player.

Because of the difficulties interactive arena elements can cause, we believe any laser tag operator is better off with improved game play rather than artificial interactive arena elements. Our LASERTRON LT-12 Laser Tag Game System offers incredible game play and hundreds of game options. We invite you to the next LASERTRON Operators' Conference to determine the quality of the laser tag playing experience for yourself.

Read more about the history of Special Modes & Power Ups development and how they will help you in the next article. Click here to find out everything you ever wanted to know about LASERTRON Special Modes & Power Ups.

When you're ready to experience the LASERTRON LT-12 Game System for yourself, contact Your Advisement Team.

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