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Author Topic: Zwift  (Read 2555 times)
Tale
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on: October 27, 2021, 02:08:52 AM

I've hooked up my bicycle to Zwift and... I'm a noob, but it's basically an MMO. Does anyone here play it?

There's an XP bar and 50 levels. To level up, you grind real-life physical exercise (bicycle on a smart trainer, or running on a smart treadmill). You earn an in-game currency called Drops which pays for upgraded equipment (there's no RMT, but there is a monthly fee). There are wearables and power-ups and in-game chat and various vast worlds to explore (fantasy or realistic). You can unlock a huge number of improved bike frames (e.g. a "Tron" looking bicycle gained by climbing the equivalent of 6x Mount Everest over time) and faster wheels. It's like having a bike frame +1 or a wheel +5, adding speed. You can unlock restricted roads, and go offroad on unlockable mountain bikes.

For example, here's a level-by-level guide to recommended equipment.



There are some PvP-style interactions. If someone is just ahead or overtakes you, the game encourages you to "close the gap" and rewards success. I lost a long duel with someone over a few hills yesterday, but I gained real-life fitness and in-game XP for trying. Structured racing is also occurring all the time, with events to suit different fitness levels, and rewards to the winners. Apparently there are 3 million accounts registered and they've had 45,000 simultaneous logins.

Teamwork is huge. Drafting works (tailgating someone to reduce your effort), so riding in packs changes everything like it does for cyclists in real life. You level up faster in a group. You can give a "Ride On" (thumbs-up symbol) to another player, which increases their rate of gaining in-game currency. If you get enough Ride Ons at the same time, there's a loot reward.

It's a grind (here's a "33 hours to level 12" guide). The "doing a dungeon" style of daily play involves picking a challenge (e.g. a ride through the hills, or a sprint training module) and completing it.

« Last Edit: October 27, 2021, 02:29:08 AM by Tale »
Falconeer
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Reply #1 on: October 27, 2021, 03:48:33 AM

I don't understand how this works. If you are out on your bicycle, how can you see a screen? Or is this meant for those fake bicycles you use to train at home?

Tale
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Reply #2 on: October 27, 2021, 05:22:28 AM

I don't understand how this works. If you are out on your bicycle, how can you see a screen? Or is this meant for those fake bicycles you use to train at home?

It's for your real bicycle. But you don't go out on the road - it's for indoors. At minimum you need a Bluetooth-capable "trainer" to attach to your real bicycle, and a Bluetooth-enabled device with a display (PC, Mac, phone, iPad, Android tablet, Apple TV, etc) that can run the app. Ideally you also want a Bluetooth-enabled heart-rate monitor (e.g. smartwatch, or an actual one that's a strap around your chest) and a fan blowing air at you, because there's no air rushing past like on the road, so you get very hot without a fan.

Most keen cyclists own a trainer (very useful in covid lockdowns, or when it's unpleasant outdoors). I used to have the setup below: a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. There are many cheaper, similar "wheel-on" trainers. It's enough for Zwift. You attach your complete bicycle to it and the roller at the back provides road-like resistance when the rear wheel spins (i.e. when you pedal), so you can just get on your normal bike and ride without leaving the house.



For Zwift I upgraded to a Wahoo Kickr, which is a digital smart trainer that attaches like a rear wheel. You take the rear wheel off your own bike and put the Kickr on instead. This is a much better device that can be finely controlled by Zwift to accurately simulate the hills and descents, while measuring my output in watts, my cadence when pedalling, etc. You're fully controlling the character on the screen by riding your usual bike. Again, there are cheaper options than the Kickr that also work like this. (BTW the picture is not mine - it's from someone's review.)



I'm using my road bike in my garage on the Kickr, with a big old dumb fan (there are also smart fans that simulate the air rushing past at the accurate speed), a Bluetooth heart rate app on my Galaxy Watch, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet to run the Zwift app. Ideally I'd be in the house in front of a 4K TV with the app running on my PC, but my wife would object and our 2-year-old kid would probably lose some fingers.

Here's the startup screen when the Bluetooth devices are connecting. The Kickr is the power source, cadence and controllable, and my watch is the heart rate monitor. Once they're connected, you go through to selecting the route or challenge you're going to ride.



There are also dream high-end fake bicycles designed for Zwift too, such as the Wahoo Kickr Bike. I don't have that kind of budget for this.



Runners also use Zwift via smart treadmills, playing essentially the same game. I have no experience with that, but as a cyclist you pass the runners going along the sides of the road on the same routes.

« Last Edit: October 27, 2021, 05:49:12 AM by Tale »
Falconeer
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Reply #3 on: October 27, 2021, 09:03:22 AM

This is quite cool in many ways. I personally detest the idea of cycling inside as much as I hate running inside (I am a runner), but gamefying the whole thing is totally up my alley and this seems well done and with a lot of things I would have put in my dream-future-augmented-reality-mmorpg.

Teleku
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Reply #4 on: October 28, 2021, 07:47:03 AM

Adding loot drops to a treadmill might be the only thing that actually gets me to stay on one for an extended period.

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
-Stephen Colbert
schild
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Reply #5 on: October 29, 2021, 10:16:35 AM

Runners also use Zwift via smart treadmills, playing essentially the same game. I have no experience with that, but as a cyclist you pass the runners going along the sides of the road on the same routes.



Time to hang the ipad over the tread screen.
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Reply #6 on: October 29, 2021, 10:16:47 AM

Adding loot drops to a treadmill might be the only thing that actually gets me to stay on one for an extended period.

bingo
MrHat
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Reply #7 on: October 29, 2021, 11:17:57 AM

Adding loot drops to a treadmill might be the only thing that actually gets me to stay on one for an extended period.

bingo

Make a clean diet reported through one of the calorie tracker apps give you bonus to magic find.
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Reply #8 on: October 30, 2021, 10:45:04 PM

Adding loot drops to a treadmill might be the only thing that actually gets me to stay on one for an extended period.

bingo

Make a clean diet reported through one of the calorie tracker apps give you bonus to magic find.

I just ate hestia like an hour ago, don't fuckin push it guy
Tale
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Reply #9 on: October 31, 2021, 09:45:21 PM

I read a bit about Zwift and running. I used to run a lot (even a half-marathon in 2017) until Achilles tendinitis reduced what I could do, and I went back to mostly cycling.

Apparently you can use any treadmill, not just a smart treadmill. But you need some kind of cadence sensor, either via a footpod, a connected shoe, or a (smart) treadmill sensor - and a device to run the app. So you can actually use any gym's treadmill and your phone, as long as you're wearing a footpod.

Here's a 1-minute explainer.

Zwift makes its own optimised RunPod (US$40), but others are compatible. Here's how it works.



There are only 21 experience levels so far implemented for runners (apparently you gain 10 XP for every 0.25km or 15 XP for every 0.25 miles). As you clock up distance and hit PBs, you level up and unlock virtual items for your avatar, such as running shoes based on real-world shoes, and other in-game wearables. Here are the unlocks by level.

« Last Edit: October 31, 2021, 10:50:05 PM by Tale »
Tale
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Reply #10 on: February 12, 2022, 05:11:48 AM

Ding! Level 15. Doesn't sound like much, but it's taken me 1237km (769 miles) on the bike, climbing 11,870m (38,944 feet) and 1 day 21 hours of game time. This is what I do now.

After soloing to about level 10, I spent January and early February doing a thing called Tour de Zwift, where you had to complete a stage every 3-4 days, for six stages. Each stage had A, B, C grades with different physical difficulty levels (and amounts of time commitment). These were like 500-person races where I was coming 300th and just happy to finish.

Since then I've noticed a real boost to my fitness. I'm able to climb and sprint faster, and keep up a faster overall pace while riding along flat roads. I'm doing much longer distances. I've changed shape but I definitely don't look like an athlete yet. Maybe that will come in a few more months.

This made me invest in some real life equipment. I bought more cycling clothes and gloves because my old ones were always in the washing machine. I bought a new saddle for my bike which has turned out to be a good decision. The old one had once been extremely comfortable, but it was from 2009 and I'd thrashed it. The new one has me in a much better sitting position, putting out constant power without needing to adjust my position.

In-game, my character also has a lot more clothing options and a few sets of wheels and bike frames that are suited to different ride profiles (e.g. solo time trial, mountain climb, flat ride with other people, etc).

I've got followers on Zwift and on Strava (third party app that gives better detail on performance), and I follow others. I can only aspire to some of their abilities.

There are esports teams racing this thing, and a virtual world championships coming up. I subscribed to the YouTube videos of a rider from one team as his relaxed style appeals to me... Here he is winning a race putting out almost 1100 watts at the end. I can put out about 550 in an all-out sprint and I can't imagine having the fitness to do double that.

I do need a better bike though... mine is a good one from 2009 but I used to commute on it and the tech is now old, so I can feel a major purchase coming on this year....
MrHat
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Reply #11 on: February 14, 2022, 02:07:00 PM

Nice! Thanks for following up this thread, it's cool to read about.
Tale
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Reply #12 on: February 26, 2022, 01:15:05 PM

UCI esports World Championships being raced right now on Zwift. Women's race well underway at time of posting. Men after that.

UCI is the same international cycling federation that runs the real life sport of cycling, and the competitors are a mix of on-road pros and Zwift specialists. The esports version is a futuristic representation of New York's Central Park with a glass road added that climbs into the sky. I've ridden it and it is fucking difficult to climb.

Watch live here. (later edit - link now replays the entire event)
« Last Edit: March 07, 2022, 10:58:29 AM by Tale »
Tale
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Reply #13 on: April 01, 2022, 10:28:15 AM

The combination of MMO knowhow and physical activity is doing a number on me this week.

The Tour of Watopia is an annual in-game event, giving double XP until April 3. I've just hit level 19 and need 20 to buy a faster in-game Trek Madone bike. The MMO player in me says "Double XP? Grind as much as you can, while you can!". So this is me for the last six days (in breaks from work and looking after a kid):

April 1: 53.4km
March 31: 34.3km
March 30: 37.9km
March 29: 9.8km
March 28: 20km
March 27: 54.2km

On today's 53.4km I planned to be slow, to recover from the ~35km rides the last two days, where I pushed myself (I'm aged in my early fifties, four weeks out from covid, still not back at my best).

What I actually did was go out way too hard, drafting with the main pack (if you can keep up, drafting is more efficient than riding alone) breaking my personal best for the first segment. With my heart rate too high, I dropped off the back of the pack and spent some time alone.

Of the 118 riders in my event, I dropped from 35th to 88th place as people overtook me. After 10km I decided to draft the next person for a while: a British rider with the in-game name "Marky Mark".

We did the whole remaining 43.4km together and nobody else joined us. He wanted me to stay with him... if I slowed, he waited for me. If I sped up, he stayed with me. We emoted encouragement at each other, used power-ups to benefit each other when we got them, and just kept riding... about 20% faster than I had intended.

In the last two kilometres, he sped up massively. I followed. We were sprinting at max heart rate. Turned out there was someone else just ahead. We overtook him just before the finish line. I quit out immediately and saved my ride, looking down at the pool of sweat on the garage floor.

He sent me a friend request on Zwift. Now I can see who "Marky Mark" really is: a 30-year-old from England. I'm 52.

Double XP! Two days left. I wonder if I could maybe do a genuinely slow 30km tomorrow and be careful not to die.
Tale
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Reply #14 on: April 05, 2022, 01:15:55 AM

Yep...

April 2:
36.5km

April 3:
46.7km

April 4:
11am: 37km
4pm: 36.4km
10pm: 21.7km
(95km total)

ding! level 20

April 5: rest day

Next thing might be to join a club (guild).
Sky
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Reply #15 on: April 05, 2022, 02:00:15 PM

Tale
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Reply #16 on: April 05, 2022, 07:40:44 PM

Ha! I'm not tempted until I can hijack a $15,000 bike with a punch and "sorry, I need this". Also need the ability to shoot the IRL 250 pound guy accelerating up the mountain because he's entered his weight as 120 pounds in Zwift (a cheating problem known as "weight doping").
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Reply #17 on: April 06, 2022, 10:59:07 AM

Don't forget the prostitutes!  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?
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Reply #18 on: April 07, 2022, 10:47:17 AM

Ha! I'm not tempted until I can hijack a $15,000 bike with a punch and "sorry, I need this". Also need the ability to shoot the IRL 250 pound guy accelerating up the mountain because he's entered his weight as 120 pounds in Zwift (a cheating problem known as "weight doping").

weight doping
Tale
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Reply #19 on: August 10, 2022, 11:27:47 PM

Ding! Level 28. The levels are getting longer, so I've become more hardcore. The things I was posting before now sound like a noob talking.

I did about 1100km (683 miles) in July and I'm much fitter. I've joined a guild, sorry I mean a club. They have many organised raids, sorry I mean rides, aimed at character development, which means improving the fitness of the real-life players, which makes for stronger racing teams in each division. It's a positive, helpful and encouraging group, but ultimately you want your guild to win the endgame. So I've also been doing some short races.

I started as category D (where A is the top), but have since been disqualified from entering D because I got too strong. I won a C race the other day, through luck and tactics (I definitely wasn't the strongest there, but I followed a German kid who sprinted early, then managed to get ahead of him by 0.1 seconds on the line). The top A-racers in the team are genuine elite amateur athletes in real life.

After my first ever race (I came third) I actually asked my wife to call an ambulance. When I got off the bike, even after a warm-down, my heart was beating out of my skin and my head was light. I had been so determined to win my first race that I pushed my heart rate harder for longer than ever before (checked with my doctor later and he was fine with it, saying "you gave yourself a stress test"). Earlier this week I had a nasty race where I repeated much the same effort as that first one, but just hopped off the bike and went back to my work desk after. The important thing to remember is to allow for recovery: you get stronger off the bike, not on it.

I now have a team kit that my character wears (which can also be ordered in real life), so the wearables gained when levelling up are less relevant. I need to lose weight, because that's my disadvantage in races, especially on hills. I'm 6ft and weigh 91kg (200lbs) and know I could get under 80kg (174lbs) if I tried. If I average 220 watts in a race, I'm putting out 2.4w/kg which is category D. If I could maintain the same power output but lose that weight, I'd be high category C at 2.8w/kg and able to think about cat B.

I look at stats and charts and read fan sites. Looking forward to an update (expansion pack with an expanded world) coming later this year. It's such an MMO.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 11:30:15 PM by Tale »
MrHat
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Out of the frying pan, into the fire.


Reply #20 on: August 13, 2022, 12:49:57 PM

Amazing. Still love hearing about this every few months, keep it up!
Tale
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Reply #21 on: August 14, 2022, 11:27:29 PM

Thanks, MrHat. You might be interested in this video of someone's Category C race win - a bit longer than the races I've been doing, and the guy is 12 years younger and fitter than me (although slightly heavier), but it shows you the kind of effort that gets put in.

I'm not particularly interested in the middle of the video, but the first few minutes and then the last lap from about 30 minutes onward were interesting to me. His heart rate monitor doesn't work at first (reading is much too low) but then it fixes itself. I don't like his riding style, the way he rocks from side to side, but it seems to work for him.

Note: All categories A, B, C, D are riding at the same time (sometimes it's done separately), but he's riding within the wider race to win cat C. He manages to draft with some As and Bs at the start, but they eventually get away from him and he's left with the top group of Cs.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2022, 11:29:44 PM by Tale »
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Reply #22 on: August 14, 2022, 11:44:45 PM

i would so much rather peloton do this than what they do
Tale
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Reply #23 on: August 15, 2022, 08:41:43 AM

Yes. Peloton (closed ecosystem, bike otherwise useless) is totally irrelevant to people in the Zwift universe (BYO bike on any brand of smart trainer and operating system). No wonder they've been heavily discounting the hardware.
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Reply #24 on: August 15, 2022, 04:03:38 PM

yeah. Shame every single treadmill I've looked at is dogshit compared to the OG tread.
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