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Laser Quest

Laser Quest is the name of a Canadian-based indoor lasertag game based around infrared (IR) hand held units and vests, as well as the name of the company which operates each game center. There are over 140 Laser Quest centers world-wide, including ones in Canada, the United States, the UK, France, Portugal, Singapore, Costa Rica, Thailand, South Africa and The Netherlands. The largest in the US is . which is located in Spokane, Washington and the second largest, at over is in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Overview of Laser Tag

The general aim of laser tag is to tag your opponents as many times with one's laser as possible, while avoiding being tagged oneself. The players are equipped with an infrared/laser hand held unit and a pack with infared sensors. Players start the game in a large multi-level maze-like arena filled with ramps, catwalks and windows. In Laser Quest centers, the playing arenas are filled with theatrical fog and black light. While play can seem chaotic, there are rules that are enforced. Players recite a code of honor in the equipment area, known as the airlock, in which they vow not to run, jump, climb, physically contact anyone, or use bad language. Employees check on the players in the arena to make sure everyone is safe.

Equipment

Every LQ center is equipped with approxiamately 30 packs, which are also called vests or ponchos, this number varies with busier arenas having more packs to accommodate larger crowds. The pack is made of a thick canvas-type material that hangs over the shoulders. When laid out flat on a table the vest forms a diamond shape. Sensors placed on various parts of the vest covering the stomach, the lower back, and each shoulder.

The infrared sensors are attached to printed circuit boards, which include red and green LEDs that light up when the pack is active. Each PCB is housed in a hard plastic cover, part of each cover is made from clear plastic to allow the IR beams to reach the sensors. The rear PCB and the two shoulder PCBs are connected to the front PCB via flat eight conductor Cat-5 cabling. The front and rear PCBs are interchangeable as long as the front/rear dipswitch is switched correctly. The front cover also contains the vibrator motor which operates by the quick imbalanced rotation of a weighted cylinder. The datalink is a small PCB housed in the rear cover with an antenna wire that runs up to either one or both shoulders that allows the pack to communicate with the LQX computer.

The actual processors for the pack are kept in the hand held unit, more commonly known as the laser. The laser is attached to the pack via a eight conductor Cat-5 cable that connects to the front PCB. Inside the laser shell is the PCB with sensors and lights, a speaker to indicate the status of the pack, a trigger, and an LCD to display the status of the pack to the player. Although now sold and repaired as one piece, the IR unit and the PCB are two separate pieces. The IR unit is what emits the visible laser your eye sees and the invisible IR beam which "tags" the opponent's packs. The IR unit is a metallic cylinder roughly one inch in diameter and one inch long.

LQX is the name for the main game computer which maintains mission time remaining, registers code names, activates games, runs the Member's Terminal, and runs the score monitor. LQX is run on Windows 3.11 and communicates with the packs via a wireless high speed data unit

Scoring

Laser Quest players gain points by tagging other players or by tagging the opposing team's base. They lose points when they are tagged by other people, or when they are caught in a trap. The number of points lost depends on where the player hit and game settings. The scale for a typical game is as follows:

  • Laser: 3 points
  • Front: 5 points
  • Shoulders: 3 points
  • Back: 4 points

Tagging another player gains a player 10 points, no matter where the other player is hit. Being tagged by the Marshal or (when applicable) by a trap costs 50 points. Tagging the opposing team's base (when applicable) gains a player 50 points. Players always gain more points for making a tag than they lose for being tagged.

Players may also be awarded bonus points based on their accuracy--usually 10 points for every 1% hit rate. In other words, if a player achieved a hit rate of 10%, he or she would be awarded 100 bonus points. This is usually limited to a maximum bonus of far less than the theoretical maximum of 1000 points in order to prevent people tagging one person with their first attempt and then hiding for the rest of the game (typically around 200 points).

The team score is the sum of all the individual players' scores.

Game variants

The hardware and software used limit what types of games a Laser Quest center can hold. Up to four different groups of settings can be created; it is normal for everyone on a team to have the same settings, though this is not required. When giving packs within a team different settings, the packs will not be visibly different in-game.

The settings which can be altered are:

Available settings options standard game settings
Game type All-on-all, 2-team, 3-team All-on-all
Game time (minutes) 15
Number of lives 1+, or unlimited unlimited
Number of shots 1+, or unlimited unlimited
Downtime (seconds) 3-5
Shoulder sensors on/off on
Laser sensors on/off on
Bases on/off -
Replenishers on/off -
Replenisher values for lives and shots -
Sentinel effect on/off -
Sentinel values for lives and shots -

The number of shots used can be quite large; in certain game types, players routinely fire 3000+ shots. This will give an accuracy rate of perhaps 5%. This seemingly low amount is a result of constant firing and dodging, as players are not directly penalized for missed shots. The average is 6% ratio of accuracy.

Downtime is defined as the period of time after a player is tagged that they remain deactivated. After the downtime has expired, the de-activated player's pack will re-energise and they are able to play as before.

North America Challenge

Laser Quest holds a corporate tournament called the North America Challenge, or NAC. To qualify for NAC, members from a particular center hold a series of tryouts. The top nine players, plus one potential alternate, then go to one of three regional tournaments held in June of each year. The top teams from each of these regional tournaments will then proceed to the continental tournament, typically held in September. The top teams from each regional tournaments compete in the national event to determine the best team in Laser Quest.

Beginning in 1999, and continuing until 2007, the top five teams from each of the four North American regions advanced. Following a series of center closures, and new centers opening, regional lines were redrawn and three regions formed.

NAC Champions & Runners Up

Year Winner First Runner Up Second Runner Up Consolation Winner Finals Location
2008
Details
NRH
North Richland Hills
ShadowZ
Lincoln
TSA
Scarborough
Team OFF
Hoffman Estates
Hoffman Estates
2007
Details
9 Deadly Venoms
Houston
Brampton Brew Crew
Brampton
Team OFF
Hoffman Estates
NRH
North Richland Hills
Gwinnett
2006
Details
ShadowZ
Lincoln
Westland Wolfpack
Westland
42
Appleton
Brampton Brew Crew
Brampton
Las Vegas
2005
Details
NRH
North Richland Hills
9 Deadly Venoms
Houston
Westland Wolfpack
Westland
Brampton Brew Crew
Brampton
Mesquite
2004
Details
Brampton Brew Crew
Brampton
NRH
North Richland Hills
9 Deadly Venoms
Houston
Phoenix Pyros
Phoenix
Rochester
2003
Details
Paragon
Denver
Westland Wolfpack
Westland
ShadowZ
Lincoln
Brampton Brew Crew
Brampton
North Richland Hills
2002
Details
Paragon
Denver
Phoenix Pyros
Phoenix
9 Deadly Venoms
Houston
ShadowZ
Lincoln
Norridge
2001
Details
Paragon
Denver
Westland Wolfpack
Westland
San Antonio
San Antonio
Austin
Austin
Colorado Springs
2000
Details
Phoenix Pyros
Phoenix
Paragon
Denver
Tulsa Whoopdonkeys
Tulsa
Westland Wolfpack
Westland
Scarborough
1999
Details
Phoenix Pyros
Phoenix
Paragon
Denver
Austin
Austin
NRH
North Richland Hills
North Richland Hills
1998
Details
9 Deadly Venoms
Houston
Phoenix Pyros
Phoenix
Armageddon
Lincoln
Mesa
Mesa
Knoxville
1997
Details
Team MAD
Madison Heights
Paragon
Denver
Oshawa
Oshawa
Phoenix Pyros
Phoenix
Downers Grove
1996
Details
Oshawa
Oshawa
London
London
Brampton Brew Crew
Brampton
Charlotte
Charlotte
London
1995
Details
Oshawa
Oshawa
Brampton Generals
Brampton
Brampton Wildfire
Brampton
London

(ELC) European LaserQuest Championship

This 9-man constructed team tournament consists of players from UK, France and Holland. The tournament is held annually, with the location alternating amongst participating countries. 2007 championships were held in Longwell Green, Bristol the cup finals was won by Sorry Team, with LQ Legends winning the plate finals. The 2006 cup finals were won by LQ Legends with Badgers winning the plate final held in Eindhoven Netherlands, the 2005 event was played in Reims France.

See also

References

External links

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