Replying to Teoppner’s point, I don’t really care about how the gamey features effect other riders times. What I don’t like is have “gaminess” tossed into my face/brain. I am not sure I understand the flying burrito saga correctly, but the first time I rode zwift it was less gamey and there was no burrito. The next time that flying burrito thing was all over the place. I didn’t even know what it was visually – sure didn’t look like a burrito to me – and I found it annoying as hell. I suppose others did too because it seems to be gone. For me, these other gadgets are also flying burritos. Maybe the difference is just the degree of annoyance.
What developers/product managers that are not riders may not understand is that riding is already a game, a very cerebral one at that. Anyone riding seriously is involved in a self optimization problem whether they realize it or not. Instead of a “score” we have watts and speed. Instead of dials and knobs we have things like VO2 max, tire pressure, aerodynamics, weight, strength, flexibility, etc. To get faster you can lose weight, stretch more, increase core strength, alter you diet, hydration, etc. I want Zwift to help me further test and tune the optimization “game” that I am already playing – I call it ‘cycling.’ I like that Zwift isolates some of the variables (no wind, pressure or humidity, no tire pressure, no weight differentials, etc). That allows it to provide a more consistent experience that helps you to measure progress in a controlled fashion (that is valuable!). The “gimmicks” that interest me are not external ones, but watts per kilo, wattage, HR, cadence, VAM (when climbing), etc.
I think the point about the solo vs group is worth consideration – over at Strava, there is a feature request to distinguish between a group ride and a solo ride. IMO, _g_r_oup rides are part of normal cycling. _The commentary on that feature requests shows that lot of people that originally liked that feature request later back-tracked and changed their minds (in fact, I think I need to reverse my initial interest). I think Zwift is the wrong venue to play the KOM game (fliers, differences in underlying equipment to normalize, etc), but if you want to do that, accept that groups are part of it . . . in cycling we have terms like ‘peloton’ and ‘groupo compacto’ for a reason. My request over at Strava isn’t to separate solo results from groups. I don’t even mind that the U.S. Pro Challenge tore through our segments. But where I ride we do have lots of motor pace training. I don’t mind losing a KOM to a rider on a group ride. But if you’ve ever busted your ass for 18 months to claim what you thought was an impossible (for you) to get KOM, only to lose it to some guy getting dragged over the segment drafting behind a scooter or motorcycle then you probably have strong feelings about “external” advantages that are not positive!
The version of Zwift that I want is the one that has no uneven benefits, just the “real-life” ones like drafting (to answer Rob’s question at the end). But the great thing here is that because this is software, my preference does not need to deprive others of their preference. As long as there are enough people in one camp or the other, it’s easy to write software that allows people to choose one “world” or the other.
For “games” in the real world, the development team could do things like scan the performance data and invite people of similar caliber to a virtual team time trial. They could select 10 cyclists of a similar ability, divide them into two teams of 5, then let them race. People can accept the invite and race . . . or not. The bottom line is that choice is good. IMO, to have a great product with wide appeal the team at Zwift must recognize which of their feature decisions are producing polarizing user experiences and allow people to pick their participation so they get the experience that they want.
Way up above in this thread Tim said, “choose now whether you want to be the iRacing or MarioKart of sim cycling.” Actually, Zwift can be both, provided they allow us to choose which of those two we prefer. I will happily pay for my preference.