Each laser tag gun features a 2.4″ display, speaker, 5mW green laser, 4 weapon select buttons, 1 weapon mode button, trigger, IR LED, RGB LEDs, (in-gun) IR sensors, 2-way radio, and a 32-hour LiFePO4 battery. This is on top of the motherboard PCB and shell / hardware the gun comes with. It is everything you need to start playing.
Work-in-progress models can be viewed on my autodesk 360 account:
The shells will be fabricated using 3D printing to allow users to have a fully customized model if desired. Additionally they can be printed in any color combination desired. If I don’t already have the color you want, you may have to help supply the material cost (as I build my collection of colors this wont be so much a problem) which are typically $30/1kg spool. You can also paint to PLA easily using acrylic paints. I would like to try latex paint next for a better feel.
There are 4 weapon classes that can be selected via the 4 weapon select buttons on the gun at any time in game. Each of these weapons has 4 weapon modes that can be selected in-game by holding the weapon mode button and then pressing one of the four weapon select buttons. The starting load-out and which weapons are available can all be configured ahead of time either in the gun’s configure menu or by a rules reset broadcast or by using the provided software to upload over USB to the gun. There are additional weapon configurations that can be saved and loaded into each of these 16 slots before a game if you want to use more customized load-outs. The weapons are enumerated below:
Pistol [pistol, silenced, taser, share ammo]
Sniper [sniper, ghost-mode, anti-tank rifle, share ammo]
Laser [laser, overcharge burst, static field emitter, healing ray]
In game, the weapon and mode you have selected will be displayed on the in-system display along with how much ammo you have for that gun. Switching weapons has a predefined swap time as does reloading and firing each weapon (adjustable for each of the 16 slots).
Score processing is currently being handled by hive computing. Each gun is able to broadcast its game statistics and together the various guns determine how many people are playing, what their names are, and then their score. They then re-broadcast this score and each gun pulls its ranking and score from the broadcast. Its really simple and requires very little effort from the players. To initiate score processing, players should gather (50 ft diameter area), one player will go to the config menu on their weapon and select process scores. Wait about 5 sec – 1.2 min (1 – 64 players) for the computation to be performed and double checked. Then finally each player can look at their screen and see their rank, score, and experience points (total and earned that round). They can then proceed to the ‘lobby’ to be ready for the next round.
Experience Points (removed from current release)
Experience points are something I am playing around with and may not be implemented in the first release. They will be earned at the end of rounds based on your score. They can be spent at the end of a round on upgrades to guns (such as firing rate +5%, damage +1, max health +1, extra life, etc). Different upgrades may cost significantly more than others. It will be a challenge not to further dichotomize the good players from the bad ones. Perhaps I will try something similar to CounterStrike’s method of distributing funds and the beginning of rounds.
In the same thought process, on-field boosts and packs may be something we consider adding at a later point.
Code & Circuitry
The code is entirely in C. At the heart of the PCB sits an ATSAM3X8C ARM cortex. This mcu has plenty of room for upgrades and add-ons.
Optionally, players can buy a base station to monitor scores from the sidelines, print scores to a printer, and broadcast messages or rules resets. The base station is not required to play, each gun can individually broadcast rules and view their scores. However, the base station features a larger screen and USB plugs to plug into a printer or you could have a cashiers style thermal printer built in as an upgrade option.
So far the crude working of this have been accomplished. It successfully displays scores but I have not worked on any other part of it so far.
Vests and headbands are optional for adding sensors. The gun itself includes a handful of sensors to catch shots from any direction. If players find hitting the gun is too difficult then can purchase packs for a headband and for vests that wirelessly integrate with the player’s gun. The vests are currently a handful of sensors attached to the player via an elastic band. This system may be improved later but is not a priority currently.
Granades have been designed but not prototyped yet. To use a grenade you will have to hold the trigger for x seconds and then toss it. The longer you cook it for the longer they delay before going off (I know, backwards). The radius is slightly dependent on cook time but for the most part is ~ 15 – 20 ft.
Say goodbye to needing cables to charge that battery. Wireless charging is pretty cool and although you still need to charge your gun near a power supply, it eliminates the hassle that wires and plugs bring. This upgrade for the gun will likely not be implemented in any recent models but is planned to be included as an upgrade at a later point.
Future System Upgrades
I am working on getting an optional minimap on the in-system display to see where teammates are (probably will hide opponents for obvious reasons). It is very possible to use accelerometers in the guns to show proximity movements on the minimap if desired in future board versions.