The Computer System

The basic DarkLight network consists of four machines:

POS PC

Players get booked in at the front counter, on the POS (Point-Of-Sale) machine. Each player is assigned to a pack in a certain game, and is given a printed ticket. This computer also stores the membership database.

Game PC

This machine is the brain of the game. It controls all the game information and communicates with the packs via the radio modem.
This machine is used to choose the game type, time the game’s length and print out the scoresheets when the game ends. Scoresheet printing happens automatically as soon as the game ends.
Games are written and edited on this machine (Password protected)

Monitor PC

The third machine is the MONITOR. A display is placed in the waiting area so that parents and friends can follow the game. It shows the progress of the current game – who has tagged who, etc – and the final scores of players when the game has finished.
Network

Comms PC

The forth PC is the bridge between the game and the pack / GEM. This PC controls which messsages are sent out.
This machine is also used for pack diagnostics as it can show various pack data, including the current voltage of the battery.

These four computers are usually connected to a Hub via standard RJ-45 CAT 5 network cables. It is possible to connect a standard Windows PC to this network to access the data on the POS machine (Members’ database & Cash-up reports). This can either be done by ‘piggy-backing’ this hub to an existing network (called ‘up linking’) or by connecting the windows machine directly to the DarkLight hub.

Printers

A Laser printer is used to print out Player Scoresheets.
Tickets are printed out using a standard thermal point-of-sale printer, such as the EPSON TM 20I.

Software

DarkLight uses it’s own proprietary software, which runs on the Linux Operating system for maximum stability.

Game Software

The Game Software is simple and easy to use – just chose the game to play from the pre-saved list and press the Start button.
The PC will run the game and when the time comes for the game to finish, it will send a message via radio to every BodySuit, ending its game and immediately commence printing out the scoresheets automatically. This allows the Marshal to be in the arena or vesting room as required.

Game Edit Software

The Game Edit software allows almost infinite variations in game design, with a few clicks of the mouse, to provide diverse games that will ensure your customers will not become bored with the same old games. The software is password-protected to only allow authorised staff to change the game parameters.

Membership Handicapping

The Membership and Handicapping system allows experiences players to be handicapped (similar to a golf handicap) This allow players of all levels of experience to compete at a similar level, by making the game harder for more experienced players, while protecting the novices.

Dynamic Handicapping is used to even out the game when players of different ability are playing together. It works like golf – a high handicap gives you an advantage over players with lower handicaps.

The handicap affects the starting amounts of Lives, Energy and Ammunition for each player and also every power or weapon that the player buys from the GEMs has a reduced time or value depending on the handicap.

Each new member starts with a handicap of 1.0 (1.0 is also used for non-members.) Every time the member plays in a game using his membership, the Central Game Computer works out an average handicap of all the players in the game.

Obviously, expert players are more greatly handicapped in games against novices – in games against other veterans the handicaps are less relevant.

At the end of the game, using the final ranks of the players, the computer works out a new handicap for each player with the top player’s handicap lowering and the lower-ranked players handicap rising. The benefit to the player is that next time he/she plays the game becomes just a little bit harder (or easier if they got blasted!). If a player wants to play with a group of more skilled players, then he/she stands more chance as the odds are evened out for each game.

Here is a demonstration:

TinTin is a member and his handicap is 0.5
Jet Heller is a member and has a handicap of 0.05
Captain Pugwash is a member and has a handicap of 1.5
Carrion is a non-member and is given a handicap of 1.0 (the default)
If the default game set-up gives the players 50 lives, 10 energy and 1000 ammo then the players would all start with different amounts, as follows:

TinTin would start with 25 lives, 5 energy and 500 ammo
Jet Heller would start with 3 lives, 1 energy and 50 ammo
Captain Pugwash would start with 75 lives, 15 energy and 1500 ammo
Carrion would start with 50 lives, 10 energy and 1000 ammo (the default values)
During the game, Carrion will receive Power-Ups etc. for 100% of the time/value set as the default. However, TinTin, who has a handicap of 0.5 (half the default), will get the same Power-Up for half as long.

As you can see this would make a big difference to the game for each of the players. TinTin would have a slightly harder game as his handicap is half that of the default. Jet Heller would have to be very careful with his shots and would have to buy energy very quickly as one shot would kill him and remove any powers he had gained. This might seem a bit harsh, but to achieve this handicap Jet would have to be a very good player and know the arena very well, so it makes it fairer on Carrion and Captain Pugwash who do not know the game and the arena so well. As you can see, Carrion will begin on the default values, while Captain Pugwash (who has a positive handicap) will actually receive extra ammo, lives and energy!

This is a simplified version to explain the concept as easily as possible. In practice, the handicapping system has a built-in algorithm to raise every player’s handicap to make the game play with an average handicap of 1.0 but you get the idea!

For a player to get as low an amount of energy and lives as Jet Heller in the example above, he/she would have to have a handicap of 0.00005 (the lowest handicap available, and very rare!) and would be extremely good, playing against lots of non-members.