We have talked about a few different changes we could make to this system. First, it would be good to either hook the cannon up to multiple hand pumps, use a hybrid hand pump and air compressor system, or strictly use an air compressor to power the cannon. Pumping is definitely the limiting factor for the rate of fire. It takes Cody less than 10 seconds to pump it up to 15 psi (recommended operating pressure), but it took other users up to 25 seconds. In a two to three minute game, we hope users can shoot somewhere between 15 to 25 times, so the time to power the cannon needs to be reduced significantly. We have also discussed whether the cannon trigger should be a large butterfly valve, or a solenoid. The butterfly valve is a good option given the physical force required to move the handle quickly, the sheer size of the handle, and fact that it will add an element of skill required to operate. If a faster mechanism is desired, we would strongly encourage the designers to still make the cannon triggered by moving a lever (maybe to internally press a button to activate the electronic trigger). Users loved the idea of having to pull hard on a lever to activate the cannon (once they understood that quicker pulls resulted in better shots as it allowed the air from the reserve chamber to be released quicker, generating more pressure).
Currently we have only made one of the tentacles mobile, while in the actual game room, all of the tentacles will be actuated. Actuating each tentacle individually can provide more flexibility to the individual target, allowing them to be rotated 360 degrees and stop moving when they are hit. This individual actuation method, however, can be costly, because a separate stepper motor is required for each tentacle. Another solution is to use a gear wall where each tentacle is attached to one gear in the system. In this case, actuating one of the tentacle can initiate the movement of the rest. The disadvantage of this interaction is that tentacles can’t be stop when they are hit, otherwise it will interrupt the movement of the rest of targets. Therefore, instead of stopping its movement, the color of the tentacle can be changed to indicate its defeat. One of the concerns for the current target system is that people will try to directly hit balls from underneath the net toward targets. One of the solution is to set up a plastic window screen below the targets. The screen will be curved down so that the balls being hit up from below will mostly be blocked. In addition, the pressure threshold of touch sensors can be set higher, making sure that only balls released from the air cannon can trigger the signal, while balls being hit up from the net will not generate enough pressure to be detected.
A few alternative room/game designs have been thought of to enhance the user experience. For example, instead of having players pass balls by hitting them from underneath the net, the balls can be transported from one end to the other in a giant foosball setting, where there are horizontally aligned tentacles acting as obstacles, and there are paddles that players can use to pass balls to each other. Another new room design is to have a dual setting where two cannons are set up opposite to each other. One cannon represents Zeus and the other represents Poseidon. Correspondingly, there will be two walls of targets. Plays will have to divided into two teams when they enter the room. One player from each team will be in charge of firing the cannon, while the rest of the team will be in charge of collecting the balls and feeding them to their own cannon. We think this dual setting will inspire more competitiveness from players and allow them to be more immersed in the game. The disadvantage of this design is that it requires a minimum of four players.