Ask Funovation Blog Series: Where our team answers frequently asked questions in their own words!
Part of the incredible draw of RAID is the fact that future upgrades are built into the software system. As the game ages, it will also evolve in gameplay. We sat down with our resident Software Engineer, Will Johnson, to learn more about the latest gameplay development, and how RAID is expected to evolve in years to come.
Will Johnson is not only our software engineer, but our resident IAAPA ninja (right)! He awards all winners with prizes among much pomp and circumstance.
Q: So Will, tell us about the newest gameplay release!
Will: Yes – we’ve released a 2-player mode within a Mexico City level. With two credits, players can now complete the challenge with a buddy! Players work together to defeat the Foci Storm aliens by solving a destruct sequence – requiring you to press two buttons at the same time, often on opposite sides of the game chamber. You’ll want to make sure you communicate well with your second player to maximize your score and optimize your efforts! The detecting lasers are still in there, so you must decide the best way to avoid the lasers while solving the destruct sequence as fast as possible.
Q: How did you choose what updates to prioritize in gameplay?
Will: Our gameplay updates are informed by industry insight, actually! Our customers were noticing that multiple players were trying to use the game at the same time [back when only one-person games were available], so we used that as our compass. With that data, we prioritized 2-person gameplay, which is the way we will continue to update the games. Feedback from our customers will always be a way we guide our priorities.
RAID® fits perfectly into the arcade at Loveland Laser Tag in Loveland, Colorado.
Q: What other updates came with this release?
Will: As we create new games and innovate, we look back to our existing games and see where we can improve them as well.. That means as we create new releases, we ensure pre-released games are brought up to speed, as well. With the Mexico City level release, we’ve also added new sounds to our one player levels for deeper immersion. So Washington DC, London, and Tokyo all have new music, many additional directional voiceovers for player guidance and entertainment, and tweaks to gameplay in some form.
Q: How do customers get these new levels as they come available?
Will: That’s one of the best parts of our attractions – all the latest software and game packs are available on LaserLink™ through the internet. None of our customers are taken offline for upgrades! Instead, we can upload the updates anywhere in the world when the attraction isn’t running (think 2am). As long as RAID is connected to the internet, we can do all of the upgrades from afar with little to no interruption to our customers’ profit!
Q: What can we expect in the future in terms of RAID updates?
Will: Most of our updates are under lock and key right now, sorry! But I can tell you that we are working on a few things we’ll launch at IAAPA this year – including a new game mode. Guess you’ll just have to keep a lookout to know what’s being released at the event this year!
Sneaky sneaky, Will. Thanks for your time and for all of your work on the newest releases for RAID! To keep an eye on our latest releases, follow us on social media!
With tons of acronyms and plenty of shorthand, the family entertainment center (FEC) industry terms can be confusing for veterans and newbies alike. Luckily we’ve made a list of frequently used terms to make life easier!
Anchor Attraction – A center’s premier entertainment experience(s) that entice customers to visit. Attended Attraction – A center’s entertainment experience that operates with the assistance of an employee. Arcade – Historically, this has referred to coin-operated, small footprint games. Modern arcades, however, can include redemption counters, mini-bowling, video games, VR, and other small-footprint attractions. They are often run with cashless card systems. Arena – An interactive, enclosed gaming area most often used for laser tag or virtual reality. Attendant – The individual responsible for running an attraction and explaining gameplay to guests. Attraction – Any game or entertainment experienced by visitors.
Birthday Child – The kid whose birthday it is! Booster/Complimentary Attractions – A center’s secondary experiences to the anchor attractions.
Crane Game – A type of arcade game that uses a claw to pick up items.
FEC(Family Entertainment Center) – Multi-attraction venues that host games, gaming systems, restaurants, and interactive entertainment for the entire family.
Gross revenue – Average per capita spending x attendance. (Read More)
Hardware – Physical equipment used in entertainment and games. Haze – A fog-adjacent mist that allows lasers to be seen while staying fire and eye safe.
IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) – The host organization for IAE (International AttractionsExpo), the largest trade show event in the out of home entertainment industry. (Read More)
LBE (Location-Based Entertainment) – Attractions that are only accessible at a venue and cannot generally be experienced at home.
Memorable Value – When an experience is remembered in high regard. (Read More)
Operator – The individual responsible for the purchase of the attraction.
POS (Point of Sale) – Software that can run a venue’s bookings, food orders, game sales, take payments, and more.
Redemption – The exchange of rewards earned through gaming (like tickets or points) for merchandise. ROI(Return on Investment) – A direct performance measure of an investment calculated by (net profit / investment cost) x 100.
Software – Computer operating systems and programs used in entertainment and games.
Theming – Design in a center, including music, lights, artwork on walls, center name, and more. Throughput – The number of players going through an attraction; typically measured per hour. Turnaround – The amount of time between active games; typically measured in seconds or minutes. Turnkey – Ready for immediate use, as easy as fitting a key in a lock (and occasionally providing power).
UEC (Urban Entertainment Center) – Similar to FEC’s – combining entertainment, retail, and restaurants in a city center space. Unattended Attraction – An attraction that runs without the assistance of an employee.
VR(Virtual Reality) – Video simulation of a 3D world in the form of a game. Video Capture – An operator focused marketing platform that allows customers to relive their experience through recorded videos they receive and share.
Funovation Reaches Milestone: Attraction Installations in 30 Countries
Funovation is proud to announce the achievement of a company milestone: an industry leader in developing small footprint attractions, Funovation, has now installed its attractions in 30 different countries as of May 2019.
The latest installation of the Laser Maze Challenge in Mallorca, Spain at Katmandu Park.
With a lineup of the Laser Maze Challenge and RAID and the addition of Omniverse VR Arena, our portfolio of attractions offers excitement to the family entertainment industry all around the globe while always reminding the world to play.
“It’s so rewarding to see our products bring smiles to players all around the world,” says Funovation CTO, John Bonvallet; “It just goes to show that laughter and fun are universal.” Since it opened its doors in 2007, Funovation has installed attractions in countries all over the world – most recently adding Katmandu Park in Mallorca, Spain.
The very first commercial Laser Maze Challenge installed in California in 2008!
The longevity of the attractions is impressive, too; “In the family entertainment world constantly seeing overturn on attractions, Funovation’s offerings have proven their unique staying power in the industry.
“We have attractions in the market that are over 10 years old, still making large amounts of money for our operators,” says Ryan Borton, Funovation CEO. Of the 456 attractions Funovation has installed to date, an impressive 80% are still in operation.
VR ARENA: A High-Energy Esports Attraction for Location-Based Entertainment Virtuix and Funovation Announce Out-of-Home Esports Contest with $50,000+ Annual Prize Pool
Virtuix, developer of the widely-sold “Omni” virtual reality treadmill, and Funovation, an industry leader in developing small-footprint attractions, announced the release of VR ARENA, a high-energy, four-player esports attraction for location-based entertainment (“LBE”), powered by Virtuix’s “Omniverse” content platform that currently features 18 highly optimized VR games. VR ARENA brings esports out-of-home, giving all players a chance to win in ongoing weekly and monthly prize contests with an annual prize pool of $50,000.
“We’ve been organizing esports tournaments since 2016, and we’ve learned that competitive gaming boosts revenues,” says Jan Goetgeluk, founder and CEO of Virtuix. Ongoing prize contests result in repeat play by guests and build a community of frequent and loyal players. Our VR ARENA attraction is exciting to both elite gamers and casual players. It’s incredibly fun to run around inside your favorite game, and everyone has a chance to win.”
VR ARENA offers the only way to run inside VR games, thanks to the brand-new Omni 2.0 motion platform, which has been radically improved and optimized specifically for out-of-home esports. The attraction has a compact footprint of 375 ft² (35m²) and is highly automated, with a built-in staging area for quick player setup, a 4:1 player-to-attendant ratio, and a queuing app to eliminate revenue-losing wait lines. VR ARENA offers a complete guest experience, including social mini-games to build comradery with teammates and post-game social media stations to share gameplay footage with the venue’s logo built-in.
“VR ARENA incorporates two years of customer feedback,” continues Goetgeluk. “We’ve listened to the concerns of our existing customers, particularly regarding the Omni’s player setup time and labor needs, and we’ve worked hard to address them. VR ARENA benefits from the maturity of the Omni, which is now a tested and proven technology. To date, we’ve shipped more than 3,000 Omni systems to over 500 entertainment venues in 45 countries, resulting in more than 500,000 Omni play sessions.”
“VR ARENA combines the compact footprint of tethered VR attractions with the full immersion of free-roam VR, while being a lot more affordable,” says Ryan Borton, CEO of Funovation. “We’re especially excited about increasing repeat play through esports, which is the next horizon in location-based family entertainment. Paired with Virtuix’s ongoing sponsored contests and large selection of VR games, this attraction will appeal to a wide range of guests. We’re not settling for just a VR shooting gallery!”
Virtuix and Funovation are launching VR ARENA with a “show special” discount at IAAPA 2018 in Orlando from November 13 to 16. Qualified buyers can own the VR ARENA attraction for as little as $1,790/month*. Visitors at IAAPA can also participate in a global esports tournament featuring the popular shooter “Omni Arena” (2-player co-operative mode). The tournament offers more than $5,000 in cash prizes, and the winning team takes home $2,000. Interested visitors cansign up here for a VIP demo at IAAPA and a fast-pass to participate in the esports tournament without needing to wait in line. Get your fast-pass today and skip the queue!
Virtuix and Funovation will exhibit VR ARENA at IAAPA 2018 in booth #2854.
More information about VR ARENA can be found here.
*Financing for qualified buyers is subject to a credit check and loan terms.
Ask Funovation Blog Series: Where our team answers frequently asked questions in their own words!
One of the most frequently asked questions about Funovation’s attractions like the Laser Maze Challenge® is “Are those lasers safe?!” We hear you, and we want to pull back the curtain on our safety measures we take with our lasers! I sat down to chat with our CVO and Co-Founder, Ted Ziemkowski, about how Funovation makes playing with lasers all fun and games!
Creator and founder of the first Laser Maze Challenge®, Ted Ziemkowski plays one of the first installations of the game.
Lis Geraci: So, let’s start with…what *is* a laser? Ted Ziemkowski: Well, L.A.S.E.R is actually an acronym which stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. But what it is in layman’s terms is a really coolintense beam of coherent monochromatic light.
LG: “Coherent monochromatic light” is layman’s terms? TZ: Yes! You can google it. And because of this, it looks to be a pure color of light that can been seen a very far distance away. If in a foggy environment, it will make a really cool straight line of light, which is a good demonstration of the Tyndall Effect. You can google that, too.
Laser safety in all Funovation products means they are safe for kids of all ages.
LG: A beam of light that can stretch that far and that intensely leads me to ask, then – aren’t lasers dangerous? TZ: Lasers above certain power levels can be very dangerous to your eyes and even to your body in very high powers. However, rest assured that that our laser system is in the safest Laser Class (Class 1 Laser system), and THEN we go above and beyond to ensure they pose no threats to your eyes or body.
The reason that lasers can be so dangerous is that they come from a very small source, a “point source,” where all the photons are traveling in the same wave. This means that when focused, the laser can concentrate ALL of its power in a VERY TINY spot. If a laser is pointed into your eye, nearly all the energy from the laser is focused by your eye lens onto very few of your rods and cones. This can result in optical intensities greater than looking at the sun. And it explains why even those very low power lasers you see appear very bright when they are pointed directly into your eye (which, for the record, I don’t recommend).
In the case of most commercial laser pointers, the laser is at the lower power range, which is classified as Class 1 through Class 3R. At this power range, something called the “Human Aversion Response” kicks in effectively, meaning that the light is so painful that your body naturally looks away fast enough to prevent permanent damage from the exposure to the laser. In addition to this, your eye is constantly quivering – meaning that the laser isn’t focused on the same spot for very long. At lower powers like Class 1 through Class 3R, this quivering effectively prevents permanent damage.
Five laser-related patents hang in the halls of Funovation, where they were developed.
LG: So how do we make sure our attractions are safer than laser pointers? TZ: We took these safe Class 3R lasers, controlled them officially to Class 1 limits. And then we brought yet another level of safety by developing patented control hardware that detects when a beam of light is disrupted, and then immediately shuts the laser down to well-below the Class 1 limits.
LG: Wow, that’s a smart way to do it. Did that technology already exist?
TZ: Nope! We actually had to make our own laser modules to make sure that the laser light could be controlled fast enough.
Patented technology developed by Funovation staff means unparalleled safety for players.
LG: Ok, but what if I stood right in front of the laser RIGHT as it turns on? TZ: Good question. The laser control safety hardware is always running – that’s why we implemented it in hardware and not in software. When a laser is turned on by the attraction system, the hardware knows how long it should take to detect the laser beam on the other side of the wall with a receiver. If it does not receive the beam within microseconds, the laser immediately turns off.This means that the system, evenright as you turn it on, is a Class 1 Laser system and is safe.
LG: And what if I’m a really super fast player, and my head moves quickly over the light? TZ: Using our hardware, you would have to move your head at the speed of sound to get the laser from the side of your head where we detect the beam is broken, to your eye, before the laser automatically turns off. You literally cannot move your head fast enough to get the laser directly into your eye with our systems.
LG: Hmm, I’ll have to work on my speed of sound movement. TZ: Even if you did somehow move your head at the speed of sound, those microseconds of laser exposure are still within the Class 1 MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure) limits. So, sorry but you’re not going to get yourself hurt on our lasers no matter how fast you are! We have had labs in both the US and Europe test and verify this performance.
Green lasers are 10x more visible to the naked eye than red lasers.
LG: Another question for you, then – why are Funovation’s lasers green instead of red, like I’ve seen in other companies’ attractions? TZ: That is a deliberate decision we’ve made. Funovation uses lasers that emit light at roughly a 520-nanometer wavelength, which appears green to the human eye. As it turns out, our eyes’ response peaks at 555-nanometers, and falls off dramatically on either side of that.This means that as the light moves closer to the blue/purple and yellow/red wavelengths, our eyes cannot see it as strongly, even though it’s at the same strength of light power.
In other words, for the same (safe) level of laser power, green lasers appear the brightest.
Funovation’s first commercial Laser Maze Challenge® at the IAAPA trade show in 2007.
LG: How long did it take to create this comprehensive laser system? TZ: Our first Laser Maze Challenge was developed over a few months, but the real answer is 11 years.Our team has never stopped improving the game, adding customer input and making the systems more reliable.If you compared our first Laser Maze Challenge® attraction to our current system abilities, it would be like comparing the telegraph to a smartphone (well maybe not quite that much, but almost!).
LG: My last question is more for fun: What is your favorite laser movie scene? TZ: There are so many cool ones – Mission impossible, Oceans 12, and Entrapment all come to mind – but I like comedy, so my favorite one is when Steve Carrell as Agent 86 in Get Smart (2008) doesn’t quite make it through the laser security system cleanly.
As a bowling destination in Staten Island, Rab’s Country Lanes has been carving a name for itself for years now. Discover what makes Rab’s unique, how they keep their Laser Maze Challenge® fresh, and what exciting projects are unfolding this year.
Since installing the Laser Maze Challenge® in 2010,Rab’s Country Lanes has done anything but slow down. “We have lots of birthday parties who use it, and it’s exciting to give customers something as exciting as the Laser Maze to play while they wait for our lanes to open up,” says Frank Wilkinson, owner of Rab’s Country Lanes. One of the ways they’ve done this is by keeping the product fresh; “We’re promoting the gameplay not just as a box with a game – we’re letting them know it can be part of a party package, and that you can watch your friends play on the video capture at the entrance, and that there’s a challenge to beat within the game” he says.
And birthday parties are far from the only exciting events happening at Rab’s. With school out for the summer, Rab’s is “full speed ahead withsummer leagues” and akids summer special that includes “two games of bowling, a slice of pizza, and shoes for $10,” Frank reports. But you don’t need to be a die-hard bowler to love the upcoming events they’ve got going on. Customers regularly experience unique events like paint nights, college acceptance celebrations, bowling competitions, and live music. “Karaoke is one of the things Rab’s has done forever. We were one of the first local bars to offer it back in the late 80’s, so it’s kind of a tradition that we’ve just always kept,” Frank reflects. “Plus, we have some bowlers who are in bands, so it’s fun to give them the opportunity to play for their community. It’s always an adventure.”
It’s that community-centric mindset that has carried Rab’s through over twenty-five years of successful business on Staten Island. “We’re big believers in continuing to invest in our business. That’s something that my father believed, and something that is in our core values of the company,” Frank says. True to his word, Frank is spearheading a renovation project that has continued to grow in scope in the past year. What started with a flooring upgrade will now include a full redemption arcade and sprucing up of their Laser Maze Challenge by early 2019. “The Laser Maze Challenge is one of the current attractions we have that will stay, which is amazing because when we look at the revenue it’s driven, it does better than what we could do with three machines in that same space,” Frank reveals. “There’s tons of opportunity within the product.”
Rab’s Country Lanes has become something of a staple to their Staten Island community, shown through their Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, their “Blast Off” event at the end of the summer where community kids bowl for free, and recent designation as thenumber one Top 31 Small Business Award recipient from the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation. “With that award, our peers in business had the opportunity to vote and pick their favorite places,” says Frank, “and the recognition affirms that we’re doing something right in our community. We’ve been here for over twenty-five years, providing an outlet for everyone to get away from everyday life. We do it because we care, and it’s nice to be recognized for that with such an award.”
Keep an eye onRab’s Country Lanes for some 2018 upgrades and some epic events this summer! Thank you to Frank Wilkinson for this interview.