Zwiftcast

1
Jul

Ep 98: A Conversation with Zwift’s Chief Product Officer - the man with the plan

Welcome to this Zwiftcast Special Episode, an extended interview with the company’s first Chief Product Officer.

YuChiang Cheng, known to all as YC, was appointed in January and the move was hailed as “critically important” by Zwift’s CEO, Eric Min.

YC was put in charge of what seemed like almost everything . . . .from game design and art, engineering, research and development through content programming and live operations, plus a bit more.

It was clear that YC, whose background includes the development of the 28 million-player World Tour Golf game, was going to be hugely influential in Zwift’s continued growth and development.

So what does he have planned? Was the rapid deployment of the much-requested Return To Home feature soon after YC joined a mere co-incidence or a sign of things to come? Is Zwift working on a brand new platform architecture? Will new features roll out faster? So many questions.

Simon sits down with YC to see if the Zwift community can get some answers to these and lots of other questions.

We hope you enjoy listening.

 

00.00-02.10: Intro, including rules of engagement

02.30: What was your last decision in your last meeting?

02.50:Give us your 60 second career resume? (SPOILER: It’s longer than 60 secs) 

04.45: How did the opportunity at Zwift come about?

06.46: Do you ride a bike?

08.00: Have you identified areas where Zwift needs to change the way it works?

10.00: The Press release on your arrival stressed “accessibility” and “innovation”. What did that mean?

13.58: In seeking to widen accessibility there’s a feeling that the hard core cyclist will lose out to the casual fitness crowd. You are prioritising growth over development. How do you respond to that?

17.20: The last couple of updates have included “crowd pleaser” features. Is that your doing?

19.50: Is the company developing a Zwift 2.0? A new games engine? 

21.50: So is Jon Mayfield, in his new role, working on a new game engine? 

22.15: The golf game you were involved in featured performance improvements in exchange for payment. Will this ever be the case on Zwift?

23.10: Zwift Running has not been a conspicuous success. Is Zwift’s future multi-sport?

24.00: Why is hardware development so critical?

25.55:  Zwift is neither agile nor nimble. Do you feel the need to address this?

29.10: Has recruitment of talented development people improved? Why not offshore development?

32.20: Tell me about your working relationship with Jon Mayfield?

34.30: We see a number of big projects announced - then grind to a halt. Why?

37.50: Pace Partners, as an example, were a huge hit. But development of them has been glaciallly slow. Why?

40.15. Racing: At pro level, it serves Zwift marketing well. At community level, tools, features and functions are slow to roll out.Fair point?

43.30: Why are some Zwifters on very high end machines seeing low frame rates on Makuri? Is this directional, or a glitch?

48.00 Will Zwift ever lock down certain features to its own hardware?

51.00: Zwift hardware. When are we going to see something?

51.20: What has surprised you, both upside and downside, since you joined Zwift?

52.35: Golfers or cyclists. Which is the most demanding community? 

53.00: Does Zwift have a proper dialogue with its community?

55.10: Thanks and goodbye. 

 

 

 

25
May

Episode 97: Yumezi - was it worth the wait? The community verdict

Well, was it worth the wait? Yumezi has landed - the first new map, and the first new world in Zwift , for quite some time. Eagerly-awaited, much-delayed but now finally here, what does the community make of the new Tarmac with a strongly Eastern flavour?

The Zwiftcast abandons its usual format for a special episode soliciting opinion on probably the most beautiful world yet to be released by Zwift.

Simon, Shane and Eric Schlange from the Zwift Insider have their say, but perhaps more importantly the Zwiftcast flies around the world to hear from prominent members of the Zwift community on their reaction to Yumezi.

We also speculate on how the Makuri Islands might develop in the future.

We hope you enjoy listening.

28
Apr

Episode 96: Zwift Re-thinks Height/Weight Call; Zwift Hub Rescue and Zwifting in Jail

Simon, Shane and Nathan round up all the latest from Zwift. The podcasters look at what they believe to be a big first: Zwift has changed its mind over a plan to hide riders’ weight and height after an outcry from the racing community.

Amidst other signs that Zwift may be extending its plans to consult the community on some planned changes, the Zwiftcasters discuss the significance of the decision as well as the thinking behind the initial plans.

After a round up of the Zwift news, including an easy way to ride without the Heads Up Display, the saving of the Zwift Hub site by friend of the podcast Eric Schlange of Zwift Insider, and how an early precursor of Zwift was laughed out of the Dragons’ Den, the chaps move on to discuss an innovative move from sports superstore operator Decathlon. The company has rolled out an advertising campaign championing prisoners’ use of Zwift inside a jail in the Belgian cycling heartland of Oudenaarde. The idea came from advertising creative and avid Zwifter Frederik Clarysse. He explains how the initiative came about.

Andrew Cotter - and his dogs Olive and Mabel - became global online superstars during the pandemic. Andrew, a sports commentator, is a keen Zwifter and Simon discusses how the platform has provided a valuable escape during the pandemic and lockdown.

Finally Shane reveals that he is again the target of lawyers . . .after seeing off the Peloton briefs last year, now a German IP expert is after our Aussie friend - over 10 dollars worth of T shirts!

We hope you enjoy listeing.

19
Mar

Ep 95: Return to Home at last; Blob Behaviour and all the Zwifty news and chat

We’ve wanted it since Jarvis. And now it’s here. The Zwift universe celebrated this week as HQ finally delivered the ability to do a second or subsequent session - without exiting the game.

Simon, Shane, Nathan and, as it’s a red letter day, special guest Eric Schlange, discuss the advent of the most requested feature of all time.

Senior games guy Wes Salmon is on the Zwiftcast too - to discuss another sizeable development in the game this week - the tweaking of our virtual pelotons. The changes to pack dynamics, or blob behaviour, should make the Zwifting experience, smoother, more natural and more visually appealing. The regular crew and Eric discuss all the implications. r Simon also took the opportunity to quiz Wes on Sticky Draft - and his explanation may confound a few Zwifters who see it as nothing but a nuisance. In fact, it’s essential, as Wes explains.

The podcasters run the rule over two big new appointments to the Zwift board - and read the runes on what their skillsets and experience may yield up about Zwift’s intentions.

Simon also talks to a big new hire at Zwift, Lisa Bourne, whose brief includes, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

Along with some chat about game events and participation, the podcasters once again debate the utility of The Fence - this time in light of Wes’s belief that the recent changes to pack dynamics may improve its performance.

Concluding with a discussion about the disappearance of Zwift Transparency and the always-difficult subject of weight verification the Zwiftcasters get a bit serious before reverting to type as Simon complains his training plan is too hard :;)

We hope you enjoy listening.

11
Feb

Ep 94: Let’s talk, say Zwift. Strava shake it up (again) and all the Zwifty news and chat

Simon, Shane and Nathan reconvene to consider the state of the Zwift nation. Once the pressing matter of “leg posts” is dealt with,  the podcasters move on to discuss the content of Simon’s interview with Zwift’s new hire Mark Cote, the company’s director of programming and content. One of the many strands of Mark’s expansive new role, which he explains in some detail, is to improve the communications between community and company, a move that the Zwiftcasters believe will be welcome.

There’s been yet another Strava shake-up on Watopia and the other Zwift worlds with a whole load of segments vanishing from the public view. Simon chats with Zwift Insider’s head of everything, Eric Schlange, on what it all means, how it came about and why it might be time for a re-think of how segments are made and managed.

The podcasters range across a cornucopia of Zwift business including signs of Zwift restricting some hardware on some platforms for some users and the reasons why more women seem to be getting public sanctions for cheating in racing than men.

Zwift has recently launched another of its social impact campaigns, this time celebrating the contribution Black athletes have made to the sport. Simon chats to one of the inspirational voices of the initiative, ex-racer and Zwift staffer Rahsaan Bhati.

And in and amongst all that there’s lots of other Zwift-related chat. We hope you enjoy listening.

14
Jan

Ep 93: Peak Zwift, Coco is Cara! Zwift Power + all the Zwifty chat

A new episode for a New Year - and 2021 has dawned with, as usual, lots of Zwift news and developments for the Zwiftcasters to discuss.The trio start off with an exploration of the possible reasons why Simon’s very favourite pacer bot may have had an identity change. Coco is now Cara! But why? Simon has a theory.

The podcasters move on to discuss the big new Peak Zwift - with more than 46,000 users on the platform concurrently the growth of Zwift over the past year can now be quantified, using this public metric. Up from a mere 16,000 concurrent users at the same point last year, Simon, Shane and Zwift celebrate the achievement whilst also exploring what it all means.

Just in time for the Tour de Zwift’s six remaining stages, the game’s developers think they may have found a possible bug which could explain why some users (previously described by the chaps as “potato-owners”) have hit problems riding big events. Are potatoes off the hook? The Zwiftcasters chime in.

A high profile departure from Zwift of a respected event organiser seems to have focussed some attention on the event management system - is a new hire at Zwift, combined with the drama of the departure, an answer to some of the gripes Event Organisers have?

And Zwift Power has been having a tough time recently - Glen Knight, one half of the service’s inventors tries to shed light on what may be happening.

Plus all the usual other Zwift news and chat! We hope you enjoy listening.

10
Dec

Ep 92: Where is Zwift going this winter? Plus the Worlds and what Coco said next

Simon, Shane and Nathan link up for another chat about all matters Zwift. And this episode the Zwiftcasters are preoccupied with one question: Where Is Zwift Going This Winter?

They attempt to answer the question by examining the most recent information given out by Zwift CEO Eric Min who gave an interview to Bloomberg and revealed a few snippets during his Thanksgiving Day Ride. The Zwiftcast trio try to assemble the pieces of the jigsaw to see if they can come up with a big picture - but they freely admit, there might be some missing pieces that could change the final image!

Simon interviews sports cardiologist Professor Graham Stuart, from sportscardiology.co.uk to look at some of the myths and truths around a subject of endless fascination to the Zwift community - Heart Rate.

The chaps move on to discuss the first ever e-sports World Cycling Championships held on Zwift and how they saw the coverage, the racing and the introduction of a brand new metric.

Finally Simon, Shane and Nathan hoover up a few other bits and pieces including Coco Cadence’s vocabulary, the slightly surprising revelation that only 25% of all Zwifters are American and whether the Shift Smart Trainer gadget might pull a few Peloton-ites in a Zwifty direction.

We hope you enjoy listening.

4
Nov

Ep 91: Insight on the Pacer Bots from HQ, Ray Maker on indoor cycling and the gigantic success of WTRL + all the Zwfty chat

As the world waits - and much of Europe closes its doors - Simon, Shane and Nathan try to be upbeat in trying times and consider the Two Big Hits in Zwift right now.

Pace Partners, or pacer bots, are a big success with Zwifters and senior games guy Wes Salmon, from HQ, talks to Simon about scope for development and some ideas being tossed around to make Coco, Dan and their pals even more bestie friends for Zwifters. The podcasters chuck in a few of their thoughts.

Ray Maker, or DC Rainmaker, is one of the most respected voices in sports tech and Simon pulls out two big talking points around indoor cycling from Ray’s annual keynote address to the industry. The Zwftcasters have their say too.

And whilst the success of the WTRL racing series may have been predictable, it’s made it no less overwhelming for the organisers. Simon talks to part of the leadership team, Martin Carew, about the headaches as well as the benefits of the TTT event that’s taking Zwift racing by storm.

There’s just time for a bit of Zwift-related banter and as ever, the Zwiftcasters take up the challenge.

We hope you enjoy listening!

6
Oct

Episode 90: Zwift CEO Eric Min discusses 2020 and Zwift’s new thinking

Zwift CEO Eric Min guests on the Zwiftcast on Episode 90 to discuss some of the big changes that 2020 has brought to the platform.

In an interview which is focused on this tumultuous year and on the consequences of the big new fund raise, Eric explains some company thinking.

A flood of new users as the pandemic hit has caused Zwift to accelerate its plans to simplify the platform for new users. Simon grills Eric on what the consequences of this policy may be for existing users.

Eric also discusses the decision to place Rowing on pause and his thinking around pricing. Eric also talks about what new investor Ilkkaa Paanen, the CEO of games company, Supercell, will bring to Zwift.

Simon, Shane and Nathan reflect on Eric’s thoughts and speculate on how the new thinking may be implemented.

Elsewhere there’s an interview with Zwift’s Jacob Fraser talking about the new Zwift Racing League.

Oh, and swooping Australian magpies!

We hope you enjoy listening.

3
Sep

Ep89: The big catch up! Steering, PacerBots, all new Academies, the eWorlds, The Fence and more

The Zwiftcast is back from its summer break - with a huge catch up as Simon, Shane and Nathan reflect on recent developments on the platform.

Steering is the headline grabber, with a number of respected voices in indoor cycling describing its arrival on the roads of Zwift as a game-changer. Are they right?

The arrival of the long-awaited Pacer Bots are welcomed by Simon, Shane and Nathan, who are all anxious to see more of them, more often and doing more stuff!

The Academy programmes have just launched and with a big change to how they’re run, plus the addition of a Run Academy, Simon talks to the new coaching company devising the programmes and the associated supporting content.

The e-Worlds will happen on Zwift and the Zwiftcasters have a wide-ranging discussion, taking in the undoubted huge publicity value of the e-sports events while addressing concerns from both the wider and the racer community.

Would Shane and Nathan make it as recruits to the new Zwift ambassadorial programme which pays experienced Zwifters to solve other Zwifters’ tech issues? The boys play a silly game to find out.

We hope you enjoy listening!

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App