When I join a friend on a ride, it’s easy to lose that person if you ride through a crowded section of the course. Sometimes I don’t know if I got ahead of him or he got ahead of me. It would be helpful if you’d always keep that other person in the rider list (and the top if he’s ahead and at the bottom if he’s behind) so that we know how many seconds apart we are. Then two riders could adjust speed to get in sync again.
A visual cue to your friend’s avatar would be nice, too. Dunno, maybe too extreme, but for example make the other riders black and white and keep your friend’s in colour?
If you use the mobile link, and have it on the messages screen. Set your filter from all Zwifters nearby, to Zwifters I follow. If you lose visual on your friend, this screen will show how far ahead or behind they are in a measurement of seconds.
The issue with the messages screen and “Zwifters I Follow” feature is that it only seems to show the people near you. So if you get separated from your friend by much of a margin (maybe he stops for a break) you lose track of where he is.
I like the idea of a visual over the friend’s avatar so that they’re easier to spot, especially when the course gets crowded when you pass a group or get passed by several riders at once.
A “re-sync” feature would also be nice, where you hit a keyboard shortcut (or a similar shortcut in Mobile Link, and it would immediately put you back on the course just behind your friend.
It would also be good to be able rubber band on your friend to smooth out any changes in speed.
In most online games, you would set up a party before joining. I imagine the existing event module could be used, but tweaked slightly.
Give people the option to create a party, and invite others. This should allow you to create a custom event, select course (or leave it open world), choose to cull other riders outside (same as current events are able to do), and set a start time. Then you invite your friends, they join, and you set off together. The riders nearby list could be culled to just your party (perhaps with a toggle, so you can switch between the two).