Zwift is infinitely more interesting and fun than just spinning away on a regular indoor trainer while you stare at the wall. In my opinion, a big part of that comes from “gamifying” the riding experience: You want to level up, unlock new stuff, complete quests, and reach new accomplishments and milestones. For those of us who aren’t necessarily in it just for the increased fitness and ability, the gamifying factor helps to keep it interesting and motivating.
A big part of the gamifying the riding experience is leveling up, and in the course of grinding away for 800km/500mi on the bike, I noticed something: For an average Joe who’s just trying to lose weight, leveling up takes a very long time. And I’m usually trying to gain XP as efficiently as possible: ride the Volcano Circuit on a TT bike with distance measured in metric units, and try to earn badges that will award me with 1000XP.
But after all the time and distance I’ve put in, I’m still not even Level 12 yet. That in and of itself isn’t so bad, but then I look at some of the items that can be unlocked for my avatar and see that I won’t even get a new helmet until Level 24, and I won’t get a new pair of shoes until Level 27. Yikes. (I won’t get into how there’s not nearly enough customization options for your avatar in terms of hair, facial hair, and a bunch of other stuff, since that’s another story)
Maybe to some, it’s not about unlocking new stuff, but for me, I automatically feel less incentive to play the game when I think about the immense amount of miles I’m going to have to put in just get a lousy pair of sunglasses or a new helmet.
I think it might be helpful to give the rider more options for gaining XP faster (like some new badges), and also pepper in some small new goodies for the rider to unlock at more regular intervals, so you don’t have to gain like 19 levels (or however many levels it is) between unlocking your 2nd helmet and your 3rd helmet.
I think adding badges would make the game more fun and interesting: Badges reward the rider for playing the game and also for trying all of the routes and stages: Complete X number of laps of the Jungle Circuit or the Hilly Loop, complete a lap of the Mega Pretzel, etc. Also, why not reward the rider for reaching certain lifetime distance or climbing milestones? (1000km, 5000km, 10000km, etc.) All of these little gamifying enhancements help to keep the rider motivated and interested in pushing on.
Lastly, from an XP and leveling-up perspective, why is the rider punished for climbing? XP are only awarded based solely on distance: 20XP per km or 30XP per mile. I almost find it hard to believe that distance climbed has no bearing on XP. You have to bust your butt for every single kilometer when you’re riding a steep climb, but XP-wise, you don’t see a single XP point for all that work. Why not throw the rider a bone and give them at least like 30XP for each 100 meters climbed (10XP for every 100 ft)? If the rider is trying to level up, he’s going to avoid climbing, and that takes away a big part of the game and the routes that he could be exploring.
Anyone else feel the same way about these things?