KICKR :: Feels Very Realistic To Me :: Not Keen on the Gamification

(Ernest Ezis) #1

I have had a few rides now and I really like the product and the effort, speed and wattages feel very realistic to me.  This product definitely has a place in my inclement weather riding plans. I think structured workouts have great promise as well, because the environment is so controlled (don’t have to worry about comparing a ride with a 20 mph headwind to the same effort with a 10 mph headwind, etc).

I am _not _a fan of the “game” features.  At all.  Not even a little bit. 

I get it.  I understand why you put them in there (and why a team of developers with a gaming background think that those features have wide appeal).  But I don’t game in real life and I certainly don’t want to when I am on the bike.  Today I found a rider about my caliber and felt like we were working together for a while.  Then he did some game thing to sprint for a banner and it was like . . . alright, so much for that. And I found that green feather distracting.  I’m focused on my riding, I don’t want to toy around trying to figure out what a green feather or those other silly icons mean.

_I sincerely hope that your Product Managers are listening carefully and weighting input according to riding ability/backgrounds and thinking about what that means to the various user experiences.  _I would imagine that people riding more than four or five thousand miles a year in real life probably don’t want that stuff at all. I also recognize that other folks really do want it and I can see how it’s fun for them. Please consider allowing us to configure our preferences to Opt-Out of powerups and other gamey features. When I login, I want to go to a virtual world where that stuff isn’t distracting me.  I’m just hear to ride, and I will pay happily for the realistic experience you are already providing.  Riders that want the gamey features could go to virtual worlds that have those features. That way everyone can get what they want. 

Thanks for the great product.  

(Mark Williams) #2

Strong agreement with the comment about the PowerUp. I had that recently when someone caught me up over a period of time (saw him coming, which was fun) and then we rode at a good pace for a while. Then he used the PowerUp. Like Ernest, I immediately lost interest - it just seemed to “dumb down” what was a really good push from both of us and I didn’t see any skill or strength in being able to press a space bar.

I’ve been surprised at how folks tend to use it when they are in a good old-fashioned race with someone else. I truly can’t see the point.

But I also understand that some folks enjoy the game aspect. I look forward to Zwift providing some “segmentation” of some nature (for example, be able to race a course that doesn’t allow PowerUps).

(Christopher Pallotta) #3

I agree. I use them because everyone else uses them, not because they’re fun or add anything compelling to the experience. If I picture a Zwift without power ups (for everyone) it’s like picturing email without Spam. Sweet freedom from a nagging nuisance. 

I do like the levels, however, and the ability to unlock features. As long as the features aren’t performance-enhancing in any way, this is a great way to keep people loyal to Zwift and encourage us to ride more. 

(Tim Lambie (ECC)) #4

Best choose now whether you want to be the iRacing or MarioKart of sim cycling. Trying to be both appears to be a much riskier business model. I would guess a poll would vote overwhelmingly for iRacing type realism.

Just sayin’  

(Ernest Ezis) #5

I like Tim Lambie’s point: trying to be both probably isn’t going to work well. While a poll might reveal an overwhelming preference, the real issue is that those are two very different user experiences and you can’t provide them both at the same time in the same virtual instance.  Yet the user base is probably going to strongly favor one over the other because they are polarizing preferences. That’s why I hope you will consider two virtual instances – one gamified, and one focused on a purely realistic workout – and then let us join the “world” we prefer.


(M Heinricher) #6

Another vote for removing the power-ups.   Kind of ruins the realism of the experience.  I tried them a few times on my ride today to see how they work. Did not really add to my experience that I was able to pass someone with crafty application of the feather on a steep climb.    (Esp since my RL bike does not appear to have that feature.  But I will be sure to go the the Bianchi site and suggest they add it in their 2017 models.   Even then, there are the issues of UCI approval. Umm.  Not that the later is an issue for me :-))    

IMO developer time is better spent increasing the realism even more.  If it turns out that a significant percentage of your users like the power-ups, maybe you could implement a feature where they are not allowed on certain routes.  (As another user above suggested while I was typing this.)  

Once you get > O(10K) users I would imagine you will have to shard the routes anyway to deal with scaling issues .   That way your use base can have it both ways.

(Anthony Cree (STC)) #7

Yes, remove the power ups. At a minimum, at login, provide the option to ride only with those who are also excluding power ups.

(Graham Lang) #8

Another vote for no power-ups from me.

(Marcus Durant) #9

I agree with all of this,  only used zwift twice so far,  i haven’t as yet used any of the gaming features and really really doubt i ever will,  not even to try them out. I tend to use rollers whilst on zwift, which makes the idea of typing or clicking or even using a mobile app pretty scary prospect. I’m to busy sweating and trying to breath to bother with this type of stuff. 

(matt Hughes KISS (B)) #10

I agree.  I didn’t realize how much I agreed until I read some of the comments above.  And kudos to the developers for listening to the feedback and turning off the burritos :slight_smile:

One of Zwift’s major selling points is that it is a virtual world that looks and feels real - especially if you are on a smart trainer.  The power ups detract from that realism

I like the Mario Kart iRacer analogy mentioned above.  Although I’ve never played iRacer, I can say that I love the Gran Turismo series but can’t stand games where my car does flips in the air and that sort of thing.  I am drawn toward a simulator because I want to feel like I’m participating in the real thing.  I want to measure my abilities based on real physics and against other humans who are bound by the same amounts of gravity, inertia, etc.  

Zwift is amazing.  Some day - maybe even today - I might prefer a Zwift session to a ride outdoors on my local roads, with their dangerous traffic, potholes, and other issues.  But I am still a cyclist and I would always prefer riding on a beautiful road in the French Alps under perfect conditions to a ride in the cluttered room that is home to my trainer.  For that reason, when I have to be on my trainer, I want it to be able to pretend that I am on that road in the Alps.  I want it to feel and look and sound as real as possible.

I admit that it comes down to personal preference but, in my not insignificant experience, cyclists (especially roadies) trend toward perfectionism.  And if they come to Zwift island seeking realism, they will be turned off by a realism that is less than perfect.  

I hope that a non-power-up option will become available some time in the future so that we can all choose based on our preference.  If I were King of Zwift Island (is there a punishment on Zwift Island for Treason?) I would eliminate them altogether.  But two separate spaces for power-up users and non-power-up users seems feasible - to my non-developer mind, anyway.

As always, keep up the good work.

(Ken Salvail (Pen Velo)) #11

A vote for no power-ups…either a real-world sim or an arcade sim, not both at the same time.

(Rob Toeppner) #12

I’m not a fan of the power ups myself, but I’d like to challenge our thinking.

A couple of people have mentioned times where someone pulled away by using a power up.   I think the consensus is that this takes away from the experience as the other rider was helped by an outside influence.

So, how about if you ride solo, bust your ass, and put up a lap time of “X”.   You then see another rider post a time of “X - 20 seconds”, but it was done in a group ride where he drafted for most of it, getting a ~20% (?) reduction in wattage required to maintain his speed, and was able to sprint for quite a while at the end.

Isn’t that effectively a power up as well?   I think the “helmet” power up nets out to a similar effect.

Should there be absolutely no uneven benefits on Zwift island, or just “real-life” uneven benefits such as drafting?

(Ernest Ezis) #13

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.

(Rob Toeppner) #14

Great reply, nicely-worded.

(Matt Babidge) #15

Agreed. Remove the game(y) features…reaching for space bar when i am sweating, on the rivet doesn’t add anything for me…and very much removes from the real life feel of Zwift which i think is its main attraction…

(J O'Connor) #16

I’d like to keep the gamification but have it as an entirely separate section with even more extreme “game-iness”.  Have no power-ups for the training, races and free-ride sections once everything is up and running but have the game option.

I think it’d be quite good to log-on, do a hard work out or race and then do a lap or two with Mario Kart style power-ups as a warm down, make the course more gamey and the power-ups more extreme and make a total disconnect between game and simulation.