New Pack Dynamics [February 2021]

Maybe that’s because the chat is broken too. I’ll get me coat.

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As we move into winter here, I’m getting more focused on Zwift racing again. Today was the first real chance to use this Pack Dynamics since they rolled it out. Drafting seems topical - I need more time with it but certainly feels harder to get unstuck from someone, but easy to glide through a pack and up to the front.

But the the thing that stuck out with the rides (did a couple of different Pace Partners and a short 3R race) was that I got motion sickness with the constant sideways shuffling. Its not so much the increase in quantity and size of the lane changes (which seems excessively exaggerated) but the way the avatar pivots left and when making the lane changes, the whole scene pivots with the rider/bike. In real life, my head stays pointing in the direction I’m heading while the bike is pivoting as I turn, so it doesnt feel natural. Throw in cobbles and its pure nauseating.

Started playing with different views but the first 3 modes dont make any difference to me. I dont think 4k on a 55" screen with me sitting within a meter helps - guess I’ll see if I get used to it. I’ve only been doing solo Z1/2 climbs for past few months as well, so maybe I need to re-adjust to riding in faster packs.

Great to be racing again.

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It isn’t, it really isn’t

I would say it is your system playing up! Sticky draft is a thing - confirmed and explained by Wes. It is definitely more pronounced now, likely because the accuracy of rider position has been improved. Also the mechanics have changed with this release since the iteration you were testing (I also tested it a few times).

Basic profile graphics versus ultra on a PC and that horrendous remote - no thanks :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Also chat ‘is’ broken (and I’m hearing that there are still issues with it on the latest release). I held a meetup on the Alpe. Sent messages throughout. Watched someone else’s livestream of it, no messages displayed. Doesn’t get more concrete evidence than that.

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Ah, yes, that old fallacy: if it happens to you it must be happening to everyone or there’s something wrong with them.

Enjoy your faulty system; perhaps you can’t read properly either, because I’ve had zero problems for six weeks of testing the new dynamics. And, no, chat works perfectly fine for me, so you clearly have a problem with your superior (sic) setup

I think you’re missing the point. If it doesn’t work for a good chunk of people (and there are lots of reports), then there is almost certainly an issue ( a bug). Your view is that because it works for you, there’s nothing wrong with it. Wrong.

Too muuccchhh irroonnnyyy.

If it’s working on Mr Baldi’s system, I can’t understand why Zwift would try to fix it?

Can’t you throw another paddy and run off to RGT again? I think I preferred that character.

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General observations after more rides after the update:

  1. It seems like the rider moves to the right in the field prematurely. There does not seem to be a reason why the rider should move. This causes unnecessary sideways movement.
  2. It would be nice if the rider can pass on the left if there is space. Especially in smaller fields where I’m riding in a line, this does not feel right.
  3. The rider doesn’t seem to seek the draft of the rider in front aggressively enough. When riding at the back of the field, my avatar will often ride to the side of the rider in front. I would expect to be placed right behind the rider in front if there is space.
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Only one race under my belt with it but my experience was that left was my avatar was doing all he could to stay left (including dodging draft) …lol

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Ah yes, that old fallacy; if I don’t have a problem it must be working for everyone else too. :wink:

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Isn’t that how Zwift works though? Zwift developer says it works for me, it must work for everyone else too. Release the update! Poop hits the fan.

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True but 300+ riders were asked for feedback each week and it was all positive.

I’ve asked the same on other rides, only a few reported riders disappearing for a second or two. And yes, they could see my texts even though I was more than 200 riders away from them, so that hasn’t been a problem either.

So, to say “it’s broken / not working / worse than ever / insert overdramatic soliloquy” is not the case. It may not be working for them; in which case, they can raise a ticket. It seems to be working very well for the vast majority of users.

Or it could be that riders need to learn how to ride better…

My impression thus far is that it works just fine in some contexts and frustratingly badly in others. More data points needed to figure out what kind of events to avoid. If steering actually now secretly works in all events, that would certainly also be one more thing to try…

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I think it’s a vast improvement, and I’m just happy that they are working on it. I did the ZHR masters race this evening. Sticky draft is definitely more obvious - it means when you accelerate up to someone (or a group up to another group) rather than rolling through the middle you slow in to their draft. I’m not against this though - it’s very similar to RGT’s collision braking. It does mean if a gap forms you can get distanced very quickly.

Whilst some amount of collision braking is a good thing to stop the ever accelerating pack, sticky draft is now even more frustrating when you are trying to maintain or increase your speed, and the person whose draft you are locked in to is slowing. You can be gapped through no fault of your own.

On the flip side, if the pack speed is consistent, you can now reduce your power A LOT and stay in the draft. At ‘A’ pack speed on the flat (around 48km/h) i could hold position at about 200w instead of around 240w, but upping power to 240w made next to no difference. As soon as pack speed started to accelerate, you then had to watch carefully to not start moving backwards quickly.

Having a button to break the draft may be a solution, but ideally the game would get smarter at knowing that if a rider is slowing, or the held rider is accelerating, the draft lock should be released. Or better still, no draft lock at all, just ‘drafting’ where your speed is more significantly penalised when you hit the the wind.

In terms of rider movements, when the pack was quite large and moving quickly in the first 20 minutes, there was a lot of sudden jerky sideways movements, that did seem very unnatural and would have me fearing for my life IRL! As the pack thinned out it seemed more natural.

I really hope we keep seeing this tweaked with each release, as if they get it right it will make the biggest difference to the overall Zwift racing experience (aside from a rankings based matchmaking system, cough).

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When catching a group, you seem to get locked to the very last rider in that group (often riding one abreast), even if there is a wider blob right in front of them. This was the case already before the new physics, though.

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The new dynamics are making social group rides excessively difficult. It’s easy to get dropped, and it’s hard to get back, and I think especially sticky draft is to blame here.

I don’t particularly like the feel in races either, but racing is partly cracking the mechanics (at the moment), so I can take it or leave it.

But the group rides are a real problem.

I don’t know where your feedback is from, but the feedback I’m hearing from others in the same position — leading or sweeping in the large community organizer social group rides — is that it’s just harder with no clear upside. (All the other problems like the chat changes are just compounding the problems, and frankly I’m getting pretty worried about the social and community aspect of Zwift.)

Are the changes making the pack dynamics more realistic? YE— actually, no. We lack nearly every possible mechanism of feedback and control that we have riding IRL. There are no ‘realistic’ changes in isolation, and that label absolutely should not be used as a target.

I’m not sure what sticky draft is supposed to emulate, for example, but what I do know is that IRL I can usually go around people instead of being stuck behind them.

Racing and other events should be considered separately until sufficient feedback/control is in place, because some subset of those ‘realistic’ changes works better in one than another, and unlike IRL, we can consider them separately — and the ability to also apply them separately is clearly there, as evidenced by specific targeted test events.

The point of group rides is to ride together. Therefore, unless opted out by the organizer the ruleset in use should minimize difficulty staying with the group.

The point of races is to get away from others. Therefore, unless opted out by the organizer the ruleset should favor creating gaps.

This is a bigger discussion, and since this is no longer FutureWorks, can we get this thread moved to General, or should we start a new one?

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It’s harder to keep a group because riders are not adapting, they’re riding in the same way they’ve been doing for years. Easier to overtake riders at the front, easier to lose concentration at the back, group stretches until it breaks.

If riders adapt (and behave!) there’s no reason a group can’t stick together.

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I think part of the problem can be that the rider in front of you is suddenly moving to the side, and you are suddenly left to take the wind. This can happen IRL but in a much slower way, so you have time to adjust. This can make it hard to stick together.

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Not to put too fine a point on it, but you’ve offered an (incomplete) explanation as to how it’s harder (and it is, not just different).

You have offered no explanation as to why it should be.

If you want your riders to have to stare at a mess of pixels and latency to try to guess how to manage to stay with the group, I guess opt-out would be for you. I’d prefer for social riding to focus on the social, and any and all changes to be evaluated from that perspective.

If you read my reply, you’d understand. I’m done trying to explain further, especially to people who insult me before wanting me to explain at length.

Let’s keep this thread civil.

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