Motion capture and advanced body physics?

Hey, I know Zwift has a lot to focus on, but before too long we should revisit the fundamentals

  • it’s weird that Zwift sound effects for the wind but no sound effects for bikes (except for getting clipped in). They need to just hire a team and capture some shotgun mic sound of varying wheels traveling over varying terrain and some freewheeling sounds. Also there should be sound effects for the collective action of cycling in a group on those same varrying terrains. This is a pretty simple fix that all major game studios would fix.

  • it’s weird that our avatars are so motionless in the upper body, we know that’s wrong. Zwift could hire a motion capture team to create a variety of physical movements that could correspond to levels of effort and different heart rate monitor levels (high heart rates and higher watts should correspond with upper body rocking back and forth and maybe some fatigued postures). But if hiring a motion capture team is too expensive, just follow what Bkool has done and just build a little rocking back and forth in the saddle for the torso. modern game physic designs take this stuff very seriously and so should Zwift. Zwift spent too much time designing the ‘reach for the water bottle’ effect but no time building a variety natural upper body rhythm physics.

Are there anymore immersive real life bike effects we could think of?

My wife reminded me that women and men need a long ponytail hair option. The hair should flop down onto the back and integrate with the upper body movement by bouncing around from shoulder to shoulder as avatars get out of the saddle or during fatigued scenes of exaggerated in-saddle power transfer.

How about only Level 50 Zwifters can unlock cool bike handling tricks when riding at below 2.5w/kg like popping a wheelie or a bunny hop or riding sitting upright without touching the handlebars :grinning: (this would be an easy trick to integrate with Mac and PC version of Zwift with assignable keys, but would be more tricky on touch devices and the Apple TV so the Companion App would probably need an update).

For me the upper body movement (when staying well below FTP, anyway) is already too much as it is, reminds me of riding behind someone with their saddle set too high…

Riding above FTP I don’t generally have spare bandwidth for observing such things, but to me maximal efforts in Zwift-produced streams (using the new UI, I presume) actually look quite realistic already.

And yes to the long ponytail, of course.

Anna, there is incredible variety across pro and amateur cyclists in their upper body movements, but on Zwift all movements are uniform except for when the avatar is reaching for a water bottle or moving between the drops and hoods. Zwift only needs about 10 different variations to keep the body movement looking natural. The important point isn’t that the avatar reflect what you or I think looks good but what a representative sample of cyclists movement looks like when riding.

Sure, there are bound to be lots of people on poorly fitted bikes in that representative sample. If I see someone in front of me on a group ride whose upper body moves like that, I’ll suggest they might consider lowering their seat. There’s also a bit of bare thigh I can see next to the seat at some point of the pedal stroke that to me feels like a sign of the same thing and it somehow manages to bother me immensely.

I think the motion of the Bkool avatars looks weird.

Rouvy is even worse (I sure hope my butt doesn’t move like that on the bike…)!

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