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Modding Laser Tag Gear? 599

digitalsushi writes "With summer here again our thoughts turn to the outdoors, and for two years, my peers and I have tried to find plans online for augmenting our laser tag gear to make it more realistic. We're not engineers, but also figured it can't be that hard to do something with some kind of infrared laser to decrease the beam width. What other sorts of inexpensive things could be added to our gear to make it more interesting? We're using the popular Laser Challenge V2 kits, but any brand at all would be interesting."
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Modding Laser Tag Gear?

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  • outfoors?? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:33PM (#9678165)
    "our thoughts turn to the outdoors"

    You sir are, obviously, not a Slashdot reader :)

  • by mfh ( 56 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:33PM (#9678168) Homepage Journal
    Please mod your Tron suit for Laser tag.
  • How about.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by _14k4 ( 5085 ) <sullivan.t@gm a i l . c om> on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:33PM (#9678177)
    Upgrading to the real thing?

    Paintball? ;)
    • Re:How about.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Scottarius ( 248487 ) * on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:37PM (#9678237)
      I second that. Lasers tag will never compare to the thrill of paintball. Everything is much more exciting when it actually hurts to get shot.
    • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:38PM (#9678251)
      We used to use pellet guns. A bunch of crazy kids running around in winter coats in the middle of summer with weapons tends to draw all sorts of unwanted attention from the local constibulary for some odd reason =)
    • Re:How about.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <> on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:48PM (#9678420)
      Try airsoft. Paintball is nice, but you don't get the real feeling of airsoft.

      The basic premise is that the guns are VERY realistic, shoot .25g pellets, and are extremely moddable. I have a Walther p-99, a Colt M-4, and a psg-1. People see me walking out from my apartment and they get afraid.

      In the US, most of the guns have red tips. But you can order the gun from overseas and have the red tip removed once it arrives.

      They are also fairly accurate. My M-4 can hit 40 out of 40 at about 20 meters. While not as impressive as paintball accuracy, it gives the game a more in-your-face feel. My psg-1 can hit from 100 meters fairly well...depending on wind.

      The pistols use gas charges and fire about 30 rounds between refils. The rifles use electric and can sustain 50 rounds (the limit of my magazine) with no prob and I have shot close to 1000 rounds between batteries.

      Seriously, check into it.
      • Re:How about.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:57PM (#9678566)
        People see me walking out from my apartment and they get afraid.

        In the US, most of the guns have red tips. But you can order the gun from overseas and have the red tip removed once it arrives.

        You walk out of your apartment with your guns visible? Handguns with the red tips removed?

        I'm own 5 handguns and with the exception of shotguns and rifles (which are impossible to take from your home to vehicle without being seen), I don't want anyone to see me with my guns. Aside from the fact that advertising you have handguns is probably a good way to get your house broken into and having them stolen, brandishing a fake weapon can get you arrested or at the very least having a cop detain you at gun point.
        • Re:How about.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Unnngh! ( 731758 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:03PM (#9678665)
          Agreed. I own a handgun as well. I also go paintballing but the marker looks nothing like a gun and I am not afraid it will be confused with one. I've played airsoft once...In the U.S., as I understand it, it's illegal to be in possession of an airsoft gun that does not have a red tip. This is hearsay through secondhand sources though so I don't know if that's really the law.

          At any rate, weilding something that appears to be a gun in public != good idea.

          • Re:How about.. (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Eskarel ( 565631 )
            A number of states either have or are working on laws to ban the sale/ownership of hyper realistic toy guns. I'm not sure whether air soft guns with the red tip would be differentiated enough under these laws in the first place, but without I'm sure they'd be illegal.

            This sort of thing may sound like the government getting involved where it ought not to be and ruining peoples fun, but as I understand it the chief reason for these laws is that it can be difficult for a police officer to determine whether suc

        • Re:How about.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @06:59PM (#9680890) Homepage Journal
          You walk out of your apartment with your guns visible? Handguns with the red tips removed?

          You are correct, this is a stupid thing to do.

          Once I was at a small LAN party my friend was having and someone came in with a Glock 17 with the big ass 30 round magazine. He walked right up behind my friend and started talking in a threatening manner. I had a 9mm pistol in the small of my back and another of my friends had a .357 magnum revolver at his side. Thinking that something bad was about to happen, I asked my friend (who was being threatened) if everything was OK. He laughed and said that this guy was a friend of his and was just joking. They both started laughing and then he showed me that the Glock was unloaded. I breathed a sigh of relief and told the guy that "Something bad almost happened to you. You DO NOT play around like that." I then showed him my pistol and told him that there was still at least one other one in the room. He looked visably shaken. He didn't think that something as simple as a joke could cost him his life, and it nearly did. Guns (and anything that looks like them) are serious business. Do not play around when it comes to firearms. Period.

          brandishing a fake weapon can get you arrested or at the very least having a cop detain you at gun point.

          I was once stopped outside of an autoparts store, while I was working on my car, my shirt hiked up in the back. I needed to get something from the store, so I drove there and walked in. Bought what I needed and left. On my way out of the store, I realized that my shirt was up and my Makarov was showing. As I got to my car two police cars blazed into the lot and one of the cops opened his door and hid behind it. I knew what was going on so I put my arms out to the sides and opened my hands to show that I didn't have anything in them. The officer instructed me to come over to his car and place my hands on the hood. I did as he asked. I told him "It's in the small of my back". He took my pistol out of the holster and removed the magazine. He asked me if it was loaded, I said "Not anymore". He tried to check the chamber, but the safety was on so the slide wouldn't go back. I told him that he had to take the safety off. He did and then he made sure that the chamber was clear. I said "In my right front pocket is my wallet. In my wallet is my (concealed weapons) permit." He retrieved my walled and I showed him my permit. He in the serial number of my gun to make sure that it wasn't stolen. When everything came back clear he gave me my gun back and then he went into the store to explain to the people working there what had happened and that I wasn't a criminal. I went on my way, but it was about 20 minutes of my life that was wasted because I wasn't careful enough about keeping my gun concealed.

          • Re:How about.. (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ampathee ( 682788 )
            Reading this makes me feel extremely glad I live in New Zealand :)
            Not even the cops carry guns (usually)
          • Just one question...
            Why did you bring a 9mm to a LAN party? Do you play with somebody that cheats?
        • Which begs the question, what if you paint the tips of your real guns red? Then you can walk around brandishing them like toys and they will be none the wiser.
      • Re:How about.. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by whiplash ( 19493 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:21PM (#9678887)
        I agree, Airsoft is quite a bit of fun. Recently there was a game in California that had over 300 attendees. [] Many states have growing Airsoft communities [] that educate players how to have a good time playing the game, without getting thrown in jail for walking around in public with what looks like at best, pistols, and worse, machine guns. Plus, these communities allow members to post local Airsoft Events, there is even a website [] dedicated to advertising events regardless of location.

        As far as price goes, in the US, you can buy a fully-automatic, 1:1 replica (ex: AK47, M16, etc) for $250-$300, add in another $50 for a battery, and then $50 for a good pair of goggles and your major expenses are over. Ammo for Airsoft is typically $15 a bag for 3000-3700 BB's. Quite a bit cheaper than buying cases of paint, and you'll never have to pay for gas refills.
        Airsoft *might* be more expensive initially, but the only ongoing expenses are ammunition, which is very cheap compared ot paintball.
      • Re:How about.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jalefkowit ( 101585 ) <`jason' `at' `'> on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:26PM (#9678984) Homepage

        The basic premise is that the guns are VERY realistic, shoot .25g pellets, and are extremely moddable. I have a Walther p-99, a Colt M-4, and a psg-1. People see me walking out from my apartment and they get afraid.

        Please tell me you're kidding. We live in a country where the police can blow you away for pulling out a wallet [], and you think it's a good idea to tote around replica weapons that are indistinguishable from the real thing? That sounds like a baaaaaad idea to me...

    • recommends real bullets. It's more interesting, that's for sure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:34PM (#9678181)
    Exploding blood packs. And lots of them.
  • I know! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tebriel ( 192168 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:34PM (#9678184)
    Apply modules that translate sounds into amplified waves of destruction!

    Now, to find a word or phrase which has power....
  • Airsoft (Score:5, Informative)

    by dicepackage ( 526497 ) * <dicepackage@gma i l . com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:34PM (#9678194) Homepage
    Have you ever considered airsoft as an alternative? The guns are expensive but they should still be cheaper then getting realistic laser tag gear and a lot more fun. Airsoft uses air to launch small 6mm plastic BBs and they are designed to look like the real thing. Most guns that are sold in stores like Walmart are very cheaply made and not worth your money. I would recommend getting an AEG (Automatic Electric Gun) from Asia (, but if you prefer to buy from the US I would recommend Airsoft can be dangerous so if you play make sure you are wearing proper eye protection (at least ANSI 87.1). Also be sure to inform any neighbors you have as well as the police that you are having an airsoft game. You do not want the police comming to your house and opening fire on everyone they see.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Michael Crutcher ( 631990 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:35PM (#9678204)
    Maybe you should add frickin sharks to your lasers.
  • Or airsoft.
    Forget laser tag, buy a couple of masks and a couple of markers. They can be had online for not too much money.
  • the annoying "buzz" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:37PM (#9678236) Homepage
    A bunch of college kids we knew were addicted to playing "Laser Quest, and tried encouraging us (paintball fans) to play.

    What a joke.

    There's no real incentive not to get shot, besides the lack of points. With paintball you know when you've been hit, because it hurts like hell. Laser Quest's hits resulted in your vest buzzing and your gun not working for a few seconds.

    Plus there was no running or ducking in the arena.

    Suggestions of wiring eletrodes to the vest to zap players were met with blank stares and hostility. I still think that's the way to go... modify them from "laser tag" to "pain gun tag" :)
    • Suggestions of wiring eletrodes to the vest to zap players were met with blank stares and hostility. I still think that's the way to go... modify them from "laser tag" to "pain gun tag" :)

      Don't you mean Taser Tag []?
    • by wwest4 ( 183559 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:48PM (#9678426)
      Why is it only serious if there is pain involved? Why do people constantly need to establish some "hard core" pecking order to everything?

      > There's no real incentive not to get shot, besides the lack of points.

      Maybe there's no incentive to play paintball without someone getting their organs shredded by hot, flesh-piercing projectiles. Roar! Seriously, the "get a life, play paintball" argument is laughable coming from grown men who wear ghilli suits and shoot each other in a make-believe battlefield.

      I love bikes. I especially like riding single track, freeride, and trials. I'd be an idiot if I called road cycling a joke because there is generally less blood involved. Not everyone needs to experience pain to feel alive, just us masochists :)

      • by p4ul13 ( 560810 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:58PM (#9678580) Homepage
        I agree with the gist of what you're saying in that many of the replys to the thread have been along the lines of "play a real game of paintball instead".

        Though the question was 'how can I make laser tag more realistic'. The answer of paintball is almost a legitamate solution, but doesn't answer the actual question posed. On the other hand, there's probably not much that can be done to increase the laser tag realism factor.

        On the other other hand, your post made me want to get my bicycle out of the shed and onto a muddy trail.

      • It's hard to get the adrenaline rush of a fight/flight response when your body is expecting a mild vibration.

        Get nailed by a paintball in the neck in the first round, and the rest of the matches you play in you'll practically be vibrating on your own from the adrenalin you produce while your body lets you know it doesn't want that to happen again.

        The "joke" of it was the whole experience, not just the lack of pain. Can you imagine being dropped into a lager tag arena and being told you can't even walk at
    • by cmowire ( 254489 )
      See, I think there's a split in the combat-games folks.

      On one side you've got the SCA, paintball folks, etc, where you have pain.

      On the other side, you've got padded-weapon combat, laser tag, etc. to avoid pain.

      It seems like most folks fit into one or the other, but rarely both. Padded weaponry folks need to really whack SCA folks when they compete because otherwise the SCA person won't acknowlage that they've been hit.

      In any case, I don't know if electrodes in the vest is an especially good idea. The
    • Suggestions of wiring eletrodes to the vest to zap players were met with blank stares and hostility. I still think that's the way to go... modify them from "laser tag" to "pain gun tag" :)

      A more serious idea might be to attach Piezo buzzers at various points of the player's suit. When the player gets "hit", his suit will rattle his bones a little bit and make him not *want* to get hit.

      Hmm... maybe I should suggest this to the local Lazer Storm...
    • by Scorpio1 ( 82882 )
      As someone who worked at Laser Quest for 3 years and has been a member there for 6 years, I feel the need to defend LQ. Did you guys play anything other than the standard Solo missions? That's what they play with the general public except at Lock-ins (all night events). Anyway, Solo missions are admittedly boring because it's just all about who can get the most points. There are some more challenging team games such as Chess which have complex team structures with different positions who have different
    • Cut LQ some slack (Score:3, Interesting)

      by addie ( 470476 )
      I was an employee for two years when I was in high school, and I have heard many of the same complaints before. The fact is, LQ is not the same as paintball by any stretch of the imagination. It's a much simpler game, and that is so kids of ALL ages can play. I would not expect anyone over 15 or 16 to really enjoy LQ, it's the little ones that get a kick out of it. To respond to a few of your points:

      The incentive to not getting shot is points
      Well, the ONLY goal of the game to win, and winning is base
  • US combat missions involving laser tag fights? But the public hasn't found out about those yet. . . I mean. uh.
  • Forget the damn laser gheytag.
    Just play paintpall. It's much more fun.
  • Obvious! (Score:3, Funny)

    by spidergoat2 ( 715962 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:38PM (#9678269) Journal
    Your laser gun needs a laser targeting system.
  • Great Mod (Score:3, Funny)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:39PM (#9678274) Journal
    1) Cut old laser gun exactly in half (longitudinally)
    2) Discard both halves
    3) Replace with this [].

    Nobody'll be the wiser!
  • by Orclover ( 228413 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:39PM (#9678276)
    Grab a cheap stungun/cattleprod from the next gunshow, rig it to the relay that activates when the light sensor is tagged. Attach leeds from the stungun to the wearee's body.

    Viola, now whenever you get tagged not only are you embarrassed but your jiggling and peeing yourself as well. Fun for the whole family.
  • by wwest4 ( 183559 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:39PM (#9678278)
    The "Laser Challenge" sets have a bomb that is ordinarily set off with a toggle switch - one direction for slow fuse, another for long fuse. It's a fairly simple hack to rip out the switch and substitute with an SCR and an IR photoresistor to allow remote detonation of the short fuse option. Then you can set minefields and set them off from a safe distance - Laser Geneva Conventions be damned!
  • Wide range laser-tag (Score:5, Interesting)

    by darth_MALL ( 657218 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:45PM (#9678375)
    Here's a mod i just thought of. Go about your daily business. Provide each player with a locator and a gun. Rig the locators to let you know when an opponent (also with a locator) is within a certain range (ie. 50 yds.). Begin panicked drawing of gun and be the first to find and kill the opponent. You must carry the gear at all times, and you must play regardless of your location, say in a classroom or at a wedding. This might be sweet as a campus-wide game. Even better if you don't know who the opponents are!
    • Start a company that uses a cell phone to do this. You could have a radar map with the "nearest" targets. Of course, it would freak some folks out to have people sneaking around with their cell phones pointed like guns.
    • by CXI ( 46706 )
      Sounds like a good recipe for getting yourself shot by a police officer. Don't laugh, it almost happened to a friend of mine on Halloween when he pulled his laser tag gun, at night, on what he thought was another party-goer.
    • by EngMedic ( 604629 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @05:32PM (#9679878) Homepage
      If you want a better campus wide game, try Assassin, the classic "hunt your target with a squirt gun" game. rules vary, but the ones that prove very fun are these:

      a. get a bunch of people to play, preferably 30+

      b. assign a judge, and everyone else draws a name from a hat. The person drawn is your target

      c. you can only make kills when there are no witnesses : this means when either you and your target are alone, or when you're in a large crowd and nobody's looking. Once squirted/tagged/shotz0red with a paintball gun/whatever, the dead man gives the live one his target, and the field winnows. There are no "safe" zones.

      d. everyone chips in $5 to play.

      At a SUNY school (state univ... ny), there were several games going at once -- apparently, the professors/grad students got into the action and would call students into their office to "discuss something" ....
      no, it doesn't physically hurt if you're using squirt guns, but the psychological pain of mind-bending paranoia (especially when you don't know how many people are playing) and the mental wrench at not winning the $5*n (where n= people playing) more than make up for it -- and it lasts a lot longer. With a properly chosen number of players (200 or more ?) games can run the entire semester.
      • by codegen ( 103601 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @07:41PM (#9681219) Journal
        When I was an undergrad back in the early 80's we had a different version of assassin. The rules are similar with one major difference, The assassince are not limited to squirt guns. The assasin could use different weapons provided the umpire approved of it in advance. A buddy of mine was on the escalator in the student center when a group of ballons was dropped on him from above. Taped to the balloons was a card that said "10 ton safe". Crushed ACME style!!

        Another aquaintance was pegged by one of the females in the group that came up and kissed him. Then said, "poison lipstik"!

        It could get crazy, but the umpires did a good job of keeping things at least comic book real.

  • No Need (Score:5, Funny)

    by travdaddy ( 527149 ) <> on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:46PM (#9678390)
    My peers and I have tried to find plans online for augmenting our laser tag gear to make it more realistic.

    Don't waste time augmenting to make it realistic, just use real guns! Besides, the Stormtroopers showed us that real laser guns are awfully hard to aim.
  • Some random ideas. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <`john.oyler' `at' `'> on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:50PM (#9678441) Journal
    1) Sensors on the gun, that if triggered, disable it for a few seconds.
    2) Somehow, build a bunch of smaller sensors, and by this I mean alot. If every person has to wear coveralls that have a few hundred sensors on them, it's alot harder to cheat and just cover yours with your hand.
    3) Have a wearable computer that interprets the sensor data. Not sure how to have it affect gameplay, but it seems you could tell the difference between a "kill" and a "flesh wound".
    4) If you have an arena of sorts, have sensors on the outdoor lights for night play. Would be cool to "shoot them out".
    5) Have lots of little 4" x 4" mirrors up in odd places, for bank shots.
    6) Have everyone wear GPS. Send the output to a modified quake server... let people from around the world watch the virtual version of the game.
    • I actually built a commericial laser tag system in the early 1990s with a lot of the ideas in your post. We used early laser diodes (670nm) and had sensors on the gun and on jackets covering the front and back of the players. The system couldn't use RF in those days, so the scores, and who had shot who were downloaded through a neat beam modulation scheme, a PC displayed the rankings of all the players in the game.

      Unfortunately the people we developed it for were the kind of folks that might carry violin c
  • Try this for size... (Score:4, Informative)

    by SecretSquirrel42 ( 789879 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:50PM (#9678449)
    IR and RF based...! (click on products)
  • You can't see lasers until they've either hit you or not hit you. You can see rocks coming, that's the best part! We just need softer rocks, maybe yellow soft rocks. Maybe we could name them based on the sound they make, like Boff or Nerf or something like that. Yeah, Nerf! That's the ticket!
    oh wait... DOH!
  • Laser Challenge V2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by auburnate ( 755235 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:51PM (#9678473)
    The Laser Challenge V2 is known to have a wide beam width. It means you could hit a target 50 ft away by aiming anywhere from ~15 feet to the left of the target to ~15 feet to the right of the target. Definitely not realistic. A simple mod would be putting tape across the IR diode with a pin-sized hole in the tape. Play around with the diameter of the hole for best results.

    But as a side note, Laser Challenge V2 makes you wear the receiver on your chest, and its an easy thing to cover the receiver with your arms as you shoot at your opponents. You almost need multiple receivers which can monitor hits from all directions, but who wants to buy multiple Laser Challenge V2 setups for one person.

    Paintball turns your entire body into receivers. If you crank down the velocity of your markers, you increase the number of people than can stand ( pain threshold ) to get tagged by a paintball. Remember, safety first ( googles and cups? for our male /.ers ).

  • Seeing a laser tag story allowed me to reminisce a little. I didn't even remember I had a laser tag system until I read the post. Then I remember why I forgot about it in the first place - paintball.

    What was lacking from the laser tag game was a reason to stay out of the way of the laser. No consequence to standing right out in the open, and as a kid, our games usually turned less fun after someone threw themselves into the line of fire for no reason.

    Enter paintball a few years later. I, for one, am
  • Graveyards! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jonas the Bold ( 701271 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:58PM (#9678575)
    We used to play laser tag at night in a nearby graveyard. We'd duck behind gravestones, which was always fun. Also, we had a rule that you're not allowed to shoot unless your chest plate was visible to whoever you were shooting at. Also, lasers bouncing off of glossy gravestones made things interesting.
  • Buy a Tippman (Score:3, Informative)

    by robnator ( 250608 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:02PM (#9678651)
    Paintball -- the most fun you can have with your pants on.

    Seriously (OK, MORE seriously), you can paintball in many more environments than you can lasertag (plus you avoid the toxic complications of Zombie Smoke), and the (small but undeniable) pain of taking a hit is a far better motivator to stealthy movement and quick reactions than a bit of light.

  • What if.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by cbovasso ( 608431 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:09PM (#9678725)
    you synthesize excited bromide in an argon matrix?

    Ive seen it work before. You could probably generate a 6MW beam!


  • by ChipMonk ( 711367 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:20PM (#9678873) Journal
    Back when I was in college, and Laser Tag was relatively new, some smart-aleck wag figured out that it was nothing more than a glorified remote control.

    He got a programmable remote (a real one, that read another remote's signal, then duplicated it), put the Laser Tag signal into it, and voila! He had the Laser Tag equivalent of a sawed-off shotgun. He could take out several players at once with it. And often did.
  • Magnifying Glass (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:22PM (#9678913)
    We used to play some lasertag in highschool. My personal favorite hack used a magnifying glass and a poster tube to make a long-range sniper-style rifle.

    CONSTRUCTION: basically, i took the IR LED and lens off the old gun. securely insert the proper size magnifying glass lens into one end the the poster tube. Insert a plastic cup that fit inside the other end of tube, but can slide forward and backward in the tube.

    ALIGNMENT: using a penlight, stuck through the opening in the plastic cup, determine the focal length of the setup. In a dark room, you can project an image of the lightsource onto a wall by adjusting the distance from the cup to the lens. find the proper locationa and mark it.

    FINAL ASSEMBLY: put the LED from the gun into the cup at the end of the tube. remove all excess cardboard of the tube. Firmly attach to the gun. (we used duct tape).Go out and test!

    RESULTS: basically this allows you to focus the beam more tightly. the downside is that you have less cross sectional area to the beam. this makes things harder to hit. the upside is that you have a more concentrated beam. this means it travels father. In side-by-side tests with fresh batteries, the modified gun shot fully 3 times further, but you had to be DAMN accurate.

    get a good optics book (or even a general physics text) for more on the lens setup.
  • Realistic modding (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jim Hall ( 2985 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:33PM (#9679085) Homepage

    Back in the day when LazerTag was really popular, someone sold a "GI Joe" knockoff that was compatible with the LazerTag gear. The only down-side was that the "GI Joe" receptor didn't count to 5 like LazerTag receptors (minor mod required.) And the whole thing looked fugly.

    So, I went to Radio Shack and picked up a plastic kit casing, and re-housed the modded board in the new casing. It was just a plain black box with a round receptor window, but it did the job.

    The really cool mod was the gun. I took it apart and put it in a water gun housing that looked exactly like an M4A1 carbine. [] (You may think of it as a "short M16.) Yes, it really looked like that! It was even the real size and everything. I instantly became the cool guy at LazerTag parties, although I had to keep the gun out of sight until after dark. (And we only played in empty fields owned by people we knew.) Other guys painted their LazerTag rifles to look cool (camo was popular) but I had a freaking M4!

    My M4 had a decent range, but I didn't try to keep the beam tight. As a result, it acted like a high-power shotgun. Great for open fields, not so great when I followed one guy into a barn. :-(

  • What about PHOTON? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brew Bird ( 59050 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:45PM (#9679240)
    Does no one remeber PHOTON? Damn that game was so cool...

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @05:20PM (#9679731) Homepage
    The military has a more realistic system called MILES [], which they use for war games. It works much like laser tag, but their rules are tougher.
    • MILES uses real weapons with blank rounds. The MILES laser transmitter clamps into the barrel, so if you do manage to load a live round, you destroy the transmitter and the weapon, but not your target. The "bang" of the blank round triggers the laser transmitter. So you have to lug ammo and magazines around. All the real-world problems of jams and misfires occur, too.
    • If you're hit, it beeps. Loudly. Continously. And you can't turn it off. Only a referee can turn it off.
    • If you're hit, you're dead. You're carried off to the "dead" pen. Often, becoming "dead" means an extra 20-mile march or some similar unpleasant detail.
    • In the newer versions, beams are coded, and you can tell who hit whom. Soldiers who miss too much get sent to the rifle range for extra training.
    • Scores affect your real-life Army career. Why send losers to war?
    The latest generation gear uses GPS and data links so that indirect fire weapons can be simulated. But you probably don't need that.
    • by propellerhead_prime ( 777032 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @06:33PM (#9680638)
      M.I.L.E.S. (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagment System, in case you were wondering) is horrible. It is awful. It is so atrocious that I can't truly capture its badness except to say that it sucks about as much as a black hole. Don't look into it. Don't consider it. Don't mention it...for gawdsake, don't even think about it.

      I have been in the Army for about eight years now and I honestly cannot sum up how much I hate this system. I once told myself, "Self, I think I could be happy doing anything as long as I don't have to wear M.I.L.E.S gear." Since I told myself that I have spent significant time in swamps, deserts and everywhere in-between and I can tell you as a bone fide user that I preferred being in a hostile combat environment where I was getting shot at over wearing that crap in training.

      Fortunately for you I find it very hard to believe that you would find any that works on the market, and if you did, the last thing your neighbors or police would want is you and your friends shooting real machine guns at each other with real (blank) ammo and then trying to explain that its just a game.

      Stick with Laser me on this one.
  • Microcontrollers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @06:53PM (#9680834) Journal
    Technology has changed drastically since the 80's when I used to play Laser Tag, Photon, etc. These days you can buy fully programmable microcontrollers (Microchip PIC16F628A []) for less than $2 a pop. I'm currently in the middle of a couple different IR projects with microcontrollers, so the potentials of this type of project are fresh in my mind.

    I would create the entire thing from scratch, as opposed to modding existing equipment. The circuit would be extremely simple (a PIC, a transistor, a few resistors, IR emitters and detectors, and push buttons for firing, reloading, resetting, etc).

    You could either just use IR LEDs, or get emitters that already modulate at some frequency. If you also encode data on your carrier then you could enable options like friendly fire, varying weapon damage, etc.

    Some ideas that come to mind:

    Use FM RF transmitters to relay all data back to a central data collection point to show game progress real-time.

    Use an IR transmitter modulated with a special code to reset each player. This would reduce cheating.

    Similar to above, use an IR transmitter (with a different code) that can be used to heal people. This unit could be placed in a fixed location, or you could have a medic type player that only has a weak weapon.

    Use virtual ammo, implemented as above. Once your weapon is out of ammo you have to pick up additional ammo, which recharges your weapon.

    Just like Medics in TFC, you could allow medics to infect enemy players. If a player is infected then they constantly emit a signal that would infect their teammates. Anyone infected will gradually loose health until they die. This could be implemented with a couple weak IR transmitters directly on the player. Of course medics on your own team can heal infections.

    Put a IR receiver in the weapon and not just on the player. Thus if it is possible to shoot at someone, it is possible to be shot. That has always been my biggest gripe about laser tag - people holding their gun around a corner where you can't see their sensor.

    I could go on and on, but I suppose that's enough rambling for now.

    Dan East
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @12:57AM (#9683149)
    The Objective?

    Realistic Star Wars Blaster Battles.

    The Conclusion?

    The current game technology isn't there. Even WITH green lasers, (Though, that's getting somewhat closer.)

    What I suggest is the following. . .

    Full clips of tracer rounds! Those things actually look like Star Wars blaster bolts! And looks are the first step.

    Sound? Well. . . Get this: When you fire a gun, you get a lot of fast-moving hot gas, right? It makes sound. Okay. So then you have silencers, which are good at diffusing all that fast-moving hot gas so that it makes very little sound. Right? So then why not a gun modification which doesn't just kill the sound, but rather changes it? I mean, why not? That's what vocal cords do. There's a thousand different musical instruments out there which take moving air and shape it. Sure, you could probably spend millions of dollars screwing around with phonics technology trying to come up with just the right noise, but the fact of the matter is that it could be done, and once you know all the right shapes of metal tube to use, the finished product is low tech and as easy to produce as a kazoo.

    So then you'd have both the looks and the sounds!

    How about the feel?

    Beats me. What does it feel like to get shot with a blaster round? Or a tracer round, for that matter? Probably not good. (Keeping in mind, safety isn't really much of a concern with me, particularly since I don't imagine a properly cool Star Wars blaster system is going to materialize any time soon. Wear a jacket or something and try not to aim for your friend's head.)

    Anyway, I suspect the formulation of the flare could be tinkered with. --If you think about it, you'd only really need enough burn-time to last the half second or so that the projectile is airbourn, so the material could be gone the instant it hits the target. Magicians use stuff called 'Flash paper', which is chemically perfect for the job. --Makes a nice rosy blaze for a second or so while you produce your pidgeons or whatever, and then it's gone. You can light the stuff in your hands and not get burned. Neato! In fact, you could even put enough flare material in the round so that it burns for a second after it hits the target. If you formulate it just so, you could probably even get it to flare up for a moment after striking. I bet you could also make a gram of theatrical flash-powder go off on inmpact as well to make a little flash and 'poof'. (Though, I suspect that would be rather pushing the safety margine a touch!)

    Anyway, for the final effect, I'd want the projectile to have a second, paintball-like component, except rather than dye, it would be filled with a black chalk dust to simulate blaster scorch marks on targets. Now, honestly. Tell me it wouldn't look just desperately cool to be able to riddle walls with realistic-looking blaster impact marks!

    So. . .

    Sounds like a blaster, Looks like blaster fire, and everybody knows when the target has been hit.

    And finally, you could wire your combat area up to play John Williams over a global sound system. . .

    Yes, actually, I HAVE thought about this rather too much, which just goes to show; that which influences you when you were a kid, has a tendency to stick.

    Now, if I could just think of a way to integrate all of this clumsy blaster stuff with some of those cool light sabers. . .


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