Laser Tag - The Game Has Changed

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#1
Just to start this thread off with full disclosure, I do work at a laser tag facility, and it'll be the main one I talk about. But I'm not just a shill, I think there's some genuinely interesting things going on in the industry and want to know if you guys have all tried some of these places, or what you think of laser tag in general. I'd be putting up a thread like this even if I wasn't working there, since it's a really cool changing industry and I haven't heard anyone here mention it.

How the game has changed
I'm sure when you guys saw the thread title most of you thought of cheesy black light futuristic laser tag. Most people still do. While some of those places still exist, the industry has recently moved past that sort of aesthetic. There's a small but growing surge of places that have taken their inspiration directly from video games. I realize that the cheesy black light ones were also at least in part probably inspired by video games, but the game industry has moved on. As you all know, probably too well, the trend in gaming is toward more realistic first person shooters. Well, it just so happens that these games are absolutely perfect when translated into laser tag.

About a two years ago my friend (and now boss) started a paintball facility. Paintball did well, but it too had a reputation. The paint is painful, and that bars a lot of more casual players from playing. So my friend opened a laser tag arena on the other side of his facility, inspired pretty directly by Call of Duty. When he took me over to the arena as he was building it and told me his plans I was amazed. I thought the idea would do really well. And so far it has.

The Battlefields
The arena itself is something pretty unique in the world. Our place has 8 two-story buildings, and another second story room/pathway that connects the two ends of the arena. We have dumpsters and a broken down car to take cover behind to make things a bit more realistic.

As I said in the beginning, this isn't just about my place. I recently went to a worldwide meeting of people running these sorts of places. The industry is still kind of small but it's growing and thriving. A lot of these places do outdoor and mobile only, which is kind of a bummer and not something I'd personally do a lot of. But if you have a party you want to plan it is a pretty fun idea. There are a few that have set up locations, though, like my place, and that's where the fun is (for me). One specific place in Fairfield, CT, has a really cool facility decorated like an abandoned airport. They have ads and stuff that seem really inspired by Fallout placed everywhere, too.

The Games
The games themselves are all taken pretty much straight from video games. We have a king of the hill type game were you have to control two boxes. You hold down a button to accumulate points for your team. We've got a game called Total Defense, which is our spin on Capture the Flag. We've got Search and Destroy complete with an amazing bomb prop that you really have to see to believe. It ticks down and fills the arena with sound effects, and in order to stop it you have to input a code. Instead of being like a place where you pay your money and just go for kills all of our games have mission objectives. You only win if your team wins.

At our place we don't keep track of kills and stuff like that, yet. As I said, you only win if your team wins. We do have some plans to implement that and really get a Call of Duty style level up system at some point, though. Other places have things like this already implemented, where you can gain ranks and stuff, and I think that's really cool.

Weapons
As for guns we've got Stinger SMGs (our main guns), M4s, AK-47s, Sniper Rifles, etc. Some places have pistols, too. And these things are heavy duty. They're made of aircraft grade aluminum, and feel like the real thing. In fact our assault rifles actually have the back half of real assault rifles. These aren't the plastic, cruddy guns of old. Ours are sighted in weekly and have some deadly accuracy. We also have some really great props, like the aforementioned bomb prop. That always gets people gasping.



Where to go:
Here are places that I've found, both with our worldwide meeting and just searching around. If you guys know of other places I'll definitely add them. I can't really vouch for how fun some of these places are, but they might be worth it to check out.

CMP Tactical Lazer Tag in Milwaukee, WI <--- This is where I work as a marketing and graphic design guy. You can also find us on Facebook

First Person Sports in Fairfield, CT

Hard Knocks in Orlando, FL

Combat Sports Outdoor Laser Tag in Manalapan, NJ

Adrenaline X Laser Tag in Cedar Falls, IA

Modern Mission Outdoor Laser Tag in Fayetteville, AR

Battlefield Houston in Houston, TX

Stratagem Laser Missions in Frankfort, IL

This are just the ones I could think of from my searches and from our worldwide meeting.



TL;DR / What this thread is about:
Laser tag is getting kind of awesome compared to what it used to be. So, GAF, do you play laser tag? Have you ever been to a place that's more like this new style of laser tag?

Barring all that, do you have any nostalgia with laser tag or even the cheesy futuristic laser tag stuff? When I was little I bought a gun and sensor set, but only got to play it about once or twice since it took something crazy like 8 batteries per gun. Anyone else have these things?
 
#3
im intrigued by the tech of the weapons/vests etc...

i know the guns shoot lasers, but isn't the laser just for a visual? The actual processing of a hit is done by IR or soundwaves right? I think that is what i heard.
 
#4
Do you ever have kids come into your places and try to shine the lasers (if they're actual lasers) in people's eyes, and/or bring high powered laser pointers into the arena in an attempt to cause eye damage?

Morons with cheap high-powered lasers is one of the scariest things running around in public to me.
 
#8
Laser Tag is fun. I've gone a few times over the years. Always a blast to get blasted and then go shoot lasers.

Paintball is more fun, but man I hate ticks. Plus paint is fucking expensive.
 
#9
That sounds cool and seems like the natural progression. It reminds me of an idea where I would build a replica ship from Alien/Aliens and you and your team would have objectives on the ship while defending against Aliens. It would be really expensive to build and play, and I don't know how the aliens would work but it's still fuck awesome.
 
#10
im intrigued by the tech of the weapons/vests etc...

i know the guns shoot lasers, but isn't the laser just for a visual? The actual processing of a hit is done by IR or soundwaves right? I think that is what i heard.
Our guns don't "shoot" lasers. The laser that hits the enemy is invisible. The thing that comes out the muzzle is just a colored flash of lights. So you don't see lasers bouncing about. You just see a muzzle flash, which you're correct in assuming is just for a visual.

Do you ever have kids come into your places and try to shine the lasers (if they're actual lasers) in people's eyes, and/or bring high powered laser pointers into the arena in an attempt to cause eye damage?

Morons with cheap high-powered lasers is one of the scariest things running around in public to me.
Nope, we haven't had anyone bring in any lasers, and if we did we'd take them away pretty quickly. Our guns don't actually shoot lasers, as I pointed out up there. The flash is kind of annoying if it hits you in the face, but it's just a flash and isn't going to do much at all.


Laser Tag is back?
It's getting there. And I was as surprised about that as anyone else.


Laser Tag is fun. I've gone a few times over the years. Always a blast to get blasted and then go shoot lasers.

Paintball is more fun, but man I hate ticks. Plus paint is fucking expensive.
What kind did you go to? Old school kind or the new kind? Ours is pretty influenced by paintball, since our owner and some employees used to love it and play it a lot. A good bunch of the old paintball customers now come in for laser tag and some haven't turned back. One guy that works with us I think sold all his paintball stuff once he was hooked on laser tag.
 
#11
Sounds like the perfect paintball play place&#8212;without the paint and perforations. Laser tag was always decently fun, but the places we have down in the suburbs feel real tame and "family-friendly". Glad to know that the bar is being raised in select areas of the nation. I'm pretty jealous of where you get to work!

Outside laser tag just doesn't feel right to me.

&#8212;Does your arena have any annoying visual effects and booming music in it? The speakers are usually what ruin it for me, and any serious attempts at forming a cohesive strategy and pulling off interesting tactical maneuvers are always seriously compromised by the player's lack of physical faculty, ability to give a fuck, and willingness to actually do anything decently fun. Don't talk to me about little kids in arenas.
 
#12
Used to play on my local places "Team". Only ever made it to the Regionals. Objective based Laser Tag seems pretty fail IMO since your primary draw is going to be casual players and much like online MP, getting casual players to work together is an exercise in futility. Would love to get back into the "sport" but I can't afford to drop $7/game when I'm teamed up with randoms and I'm too old for the lock-ins which attracts the real competition.

Our guns don't "shoot" lasers. The laser that hits the enemy is invisible. The thing that comes out the muzzle is just a colored flash of lights. So you don't see lasers bouncing about. You just see a muzzle flash, which you're correct in assuming is just for a visual.
Lamesauce. Not having to sight your shots made the game much faster paced. :(
 
#13
&#8212;Does your arena have any annoying visual effects and booming music in it? The speakers are usually what ruin it for me, and any serious attempts at forming a cohesive strategy and pulling off interesting tactical maneuvers are always seriously compromised by the player's lack of physical faculty, ability to give a fuck, and willingness to actually do anything decently fun. Don't talk to me about little kids in arenas.
We play a bit of music, but it's at a pretty low volume, because we want to encourage teamwork and strategy. It's nothing like some other places you've probably been to.

Used to play on my local places "Team". Only ever made it to the Regionals. Objective based Laser Tag seems pretty fail IMO since your primary draw is going to be casual players and much like online MP, getting casual players to work together is an exercise in futility. Would love to get back into the "sport" but I can't afford to drop $7/game when I'm teamed up with randoms and I'm too old for the lock-ins which attracts the real competition.
Yeah, we get a lot of casual players in, and you kind of have to. But during the week we do get some people who play week in and week out. And they're pretty good. Wednesdays and Thursday games turn into some highly strategic games. The weekend is usually full to the brim, so some strategy is taken out a bit. Personally 8 vs 8 or 10 vs 10 games are the best.

Also, as for strategy, yeah we have some little kids that come in and some people that don't do much or don't care, but really a good core group can coordinate enough to do any objective. If you come in alone it's kind of frustrating (but still a bit of fun). If you come in with like 4 or 5 people you can do enough that it's still highly strategic. It's also kind of fun coming up with strategies that take advantage of the casuals.


Lamesauce. Not having to sight your shots made the game much faster paced. :(
Our guns have highly, HIGHLY accurate red dot sights. It's pretty fast paced. If you're playing against someone that's played a few times the firefight isn't going to last more than a couple seconds.
 
#17
What kind did you go to? Old school kind or the new kind? Ours is pretty influenced by paintball, since our owner and some employees used to love it and play it a lot. A good bunch of the old paintball customers now come in for laser tag and some haven't turned back. One guy that works with us I think sold all his paintball stuff once he was hooked on laser tag.
Ultrazone in Falls Church, VA

They were pretty influenced by Quake Arena type combat. Corridors and catwalks and dead end maze like hallways and rooms, etc. You shoot, you die, you have a 10 second respawn, you tally up your kills at the end, etc. They had these drone things you had to kill or protect, in one sort of CTF game, and then they had a deathmatch type game. I don't know if that's old or new lasertag though. They use vests and a snazzy looking plastic gun with lights everywhere, and an electronic recoil pump.

What I fucking loved loved loved was indoor paintball. Oh my god I drove for miles to go do that with my friends. The owner was gouging us for paint though, even though we knew him. Eventually we just started sneaking ours in. Pros would show up and kick our asses, but we ruled the little kids. It never seemed to catch on though, and the place closed. Lasertag is a lot more accessible/respectable I guess. Less 'you'll shoot your eye out'. And you don't have to maintain your own gun.
 
#18
They are little muffled kid toy sounds.
Ah, yeah, sound is something that's kind of touchy. I think for the most part they sound pretty realistic without being so loud that the arena is a cacophony of noises where you can't actually strategize. Our bomb sounds amazing, though. We've got it hooked up wirelessly to the sound system, so when that puppy blows, the entire arena can shake with base like the thing is actually blowing up. You can hear windows shattering and stuff like that, too. It's pretty cool.

Ultrazone in Falls Church, VA

They were pretty influenced by Quake Arena type combat. Corridors and catwalks and dead end maze like hallways and rooms, etc. You shoot, you die, you have a 10 second respawn, you tally up your kills at the end, etc. I don't know if that's old or new lasertag though. They use vests and a snazzy looking plastic gun with lights everywhere.

What I fucking loved loved loved was indoor paintball. Oh my god I drove for miles to go do that with my friends. The owner was gouging us for paint though, even though we knew him. Eventually we just started sneaking ours in. Pros would show up and kick our asses, but we ruled the little kids. It never seemed to catch on though, and the place closed. Lasertag is a lot more accessible/respectable I guess. Less 'you'll shoot your eye out'. And you don't have to maintain your own gun.
Yeah that sounds like older school stuff. We don't have the lights everywhere or vests, and everything's about objectives and strategies. And in order to respawn you have to go back to your base, so that makes strategy and defense lanes a bit better. Yeah, i'd say if you used to love paintball you should try out something like this. It'd probably be up your alley. The complaints you say are the complaints that we got from paintball people that now stick to laser tag.
 
#21
Airsoft looks the best of them all because it has replica guns with full auto fire, plus the hits can cause actual damage and hurt.
Our guns are pretty "replica," or at least as close as we can get in a laser tag gun. As I said up there, our assault rifle is literally half actual assault rifle.

The problem with paintball and airsoft, though, is the fact that the kills aren't automated. It relies a lot on the honor system. With laser tag if you're hit you're hit. If you're dead you're dead.
 
#23
Our guns are pretty "replica," or at least as close as we can get in a laser tag gun. As I said up there, our assault rifle is literally half actual assault rifle.

The problem with paintball and airsoft, though, is the fact that the kills aren't automated. It relies a lot on the honor system. With laser tag if you're hit you're hit. If you're dead you're dead.
That is a very cool part of Laser :p
 

Vilam

Maxis Redwood
#27
I'm curious, have you ever worked with a Laser Runner system RDreamer? I ran a facility about a decade ago and was happy with their tech after seeing a few different shitty systems go through that place.
 
#28
I'm curious, have you ever worked with a Laser Runner system RDreamer? I ran a facility about a decade ago and was happy with their tech after seeing a few different shitty systems go through that place.
Nope. The only tech I've worked with is the stuff in my facility, which is a newer manufacturer, Adventure Sports HQ. They're still creating things as we go, and a lot of the features they're putting into the guns are stuff that my boss is talking them into putting in. My boss picked that manufacturer to begin with because their stuff was absolutely the most high quality. It's made of some heavy duty aircraft grade aluminum, and I've seen some players beat the hell out of them and they come out great.

I think the other higher quality guns that compete with those are Battlefield Live. Haven't tried those yet.
 
#29
I've been to Hard Knocks Orlando. It's pretty cool. But I was with a very large group so it was a little cramped and rushed. But the different rooms, weapons with realistic weight, and different missions were pretty much video games brought to life.
 
#31
I've been to Hard Knocks Orlando. It's pretty cool. But I was with a very large group so it was a little cramped and rushed. But the different rooms, weapons with realistic weight, and different missions were pretty much video games brought to life.
Awesome! My boss wanted to take me down there sometime when I came on and started doing the design and marketing, just to show me how they do things. I've followed them on Facebook and checked everything out and they look to be really cool. Not sure how they actually compare to what we do, but I do know I'd love to play there sometime.


Barney stinson finally joined NeoGaf?

AWESOME
Normally national recognition of something would be good, but I'm starting to think this guy and that show hurt things a little bit by reminding people of the old style of laser tag. Everyone thinks of that when I tell them about my place, but it's really not that same sort of feeling at all.
 

Feep

Second-hand Citizen
#32
I've frequented Hard Knocks in ORL when I lived in Florida, and it was super awesome. Los Angeles needs one of these places, stat.
 
#33
Are there any laser tag suits that are equipped with tasers that shock the wearer when he or she is hit with a shot? That would be awesome and might entice me to try laser tag again for the first time since I was a child.
 

TheSeks

Blinded by the luminous glory that is David Bowie's physical manifestation.
#34
That sounds pretty neat. I should go check the Orlando one out since like ten years ago I remember the blacklight version that you're talking about that was up in Jacksonville.
 
#36
Man, If I was rich, I would open a place like this!

How does it works tho? You said that only headshots counts, but.. how exactly does it works when you get hit? Your gun is disabled? You have something on you that starts flashing?
 
#38
Man, If I was rich, I would open a place like this!

How does it works tho? You said that only headshots counts, but.. how exactly does it works when you get hit? Your gun is disabled? You have something on you that starts flashing?
Your headset lights up per hit, and your gun makes a noise. The gun also makes a noise if you get a near miss (it's a woosh sort of noise). If you're hit 4 times (with a stinger) your headset lights up all the way and your gun stops working. It also screams out ("Man down, man down!") to let you know you're dead. You then walk back to your base and hit the respawn button to get back in.
 

TheSeks

Blinded by the luminous glory that is David Bowie's physical manifestation.
#40
Real S&D/CS mode seems like it'd be pretty intense. Does the bomb code change per round or is it a set code? How many digits? Does the timer still tick/round isn't over if the attackers are all dead and the defense has to disarm the bomb to win?
 
#41
oh man laser tag. I still think I have the original lazer tag sets with the black gun and silver sensor.

I wish these sites are on the west coast. anything remotely laser tag is qzar, which was cool back in the day but slow as hell gameplay.
 
#42
Real S&D/CS mode seems like it'd be pretty intense. Does the bomb code change per round or is it a set code? How many digits? Does the timer still tick/round isn't over if the attackers are all dead and the defense has to disarm the bomb to win?
The bomb code is completely random and we can have it be as many digits as we want. What's cool is we have the ability to make it so you have to hold down a button to decode it, too. So normally you'll have to hold down the button and wait for the bomb to decode and tell you the digits, and then when it's decoded only then can you put in the code to defuse it. We usually run games where the bombing team picks a building to bomb, then they have to pick up the bomb and take it to the top of that building, set it, and defend. But with a long code and a long decode time, we can put the bomb on top of a building and start the game there, and it becomes a whole new game.

In normal games we play infinite respawns for everyone, so the bomb goes until it blows up or it's defused. In tournaments, though, with 4 person teams we usually did no respawns, so things got really really strategic.

And yeah some of those games can be really really intense. It especially gets intense when the time runs out and the bomb goes into overtime if someone's got their hand on the button and is inputting the code. If they mess up the code the bomb blows, if they don't they win. Every time it gets to those last 10 seconds it becomes a hectic free for all with people screaming from everywhere for people to get up there, etc.
 
#45
I didn't know this type of stuff existed in the laser tag world, only in paintball/airsoft I thought. There is 2 local laser tag establishments that are pretty good but also pretty standard. Only 1 type of gun, black lights for lighting only, and the arenas aren't really that big or creative. They do have modes other than standard team deathmatch but you have to be a member to play those and its only on member nights. My friends and I have gotten really bored for laser tag and want to do something more interesting and exciting like airsoft or paintball but I don't want to spend the money buy my own guns and equipment or get hurt by paintballs, so this new type of laser tag stuff sounds awesome. I hope it makes it way down here to St. Louis.
 
#46
I don't think I could play laser tag again after trying paintball.
We get a lot of people saying exactly the opposite, actually. When my boss closed the paintball side of the business he had a lot of people that were kind of upset about it, but then when they played laser tag they absolutely loved it.
 
#47
How does the hitbox of being hit by a laser gun work? When I played it as a kid you wore it on your chest right? Do you wear other sensors? In paintball, you obviously get a kill if you hit anywhere on their body
 
#48
How does the hitbox of being hit by a laser gun work? When I played it as a kid you wore it on your chest right? Do you wear other sensors? In paintball, you obviously get a kill if you hit anywhere on their body
For us and for our guns it's headshot only. You put on a headband with 3 sensors on it. Other body parts don't count at all. It kind of sucks, but really you have to choose one body part, otherwise the setup is just too long. And headshots is way better than body shots, since it means you're vulnerable at any time you're looking somewhere or aiming somewhere.
 

TheSeks

Blinded by the luminous glory that is David Bowie's physical manifestation.
#49
The bomb code is completely random and we can have it be as many digits as we want. What's cool is we have the ability to make it so you have to hold down a button to decode it, too. So normally you'll have to hold down the button and wait for the bomb to decode and tell you the digits, and then when it's decoded only then can you put in the code to defuse it. We usually run games where the bombing team picks a building to bomb, then they have to pick up the bomb and take it to the top of that building, set it, and defend. But with a long code and a long decode time, we can put the bomb on top of a building and start the game there, and it becomes a whole new game.

In normal games we play infinite respawns for everyone, so the bomb goes until it blows up or it's defused. In tournaments, though, with 4 person teams we usually did no respawns, so things got really really strategic.

And yeah some of those games can be really really intense. It especially gets intense when the time runs out and the bomb goes into overtime if someone's got their hand on the button and is inputting the code. If they mess up the code the bomb blows, if they don't they win. Every time it gets to those last 10 seconds it becomes a hectic free for all with people screaming from everywhere for people to get up there, etc.
That's pretty cool. If teams could set the bomb codes through you (custom bomb codes) I feel it would add another strategic element of having to disarm a terrorist/attacker and interrogate them a la shooting their gun out of their hand or knee capping them. But that probably wouldn't work too well for a "safe combat" environment. :lol

I kinda want to go despite being disabled (HoH) just to play some "real" S&D. Haven't played S&D actively in FPS since CoD4. I miss it. :(

Edit: Oh, the hitboxes aren't all body related just the head. That kinda deflates my hype a little.
 
#50
For us and for our guns it's headshot only. You put on a headband with 3 sensors on it. Other body parts don't count at all. It kind of sucks, but really you have to choose one body part, otherwise the setup is just too long. And headshots is way better than body shots, since it means you're vulnerable at any time you're looking somewhere or aiming somewhere.
Makes sense.

Your thing sounds very cool, and you're right paintball is painful and that's why I don't like it.

Socal definitely needs one of these places. Paintball as a recreational sport is bigger than you'd think here...a lot of companies take employee trips as a perk or team-building event (there's a place here called SC Village that probably makes bank). I'd imagine large scale laser tag like this would be a big hit.
 
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