ROADWORKS

BUILDING VIRTUAL ROADS FOR CYCLING

We’ve been un(!)intentionally secretive about the production of new roads and features in the past. This hasn’t been through choice, necessity, or even derived from a sense of our own self importance, it’s just how things panned out. 

As a team we think sharing new features with our athletes is really important. It will help us to get early feedback, we want to get you excited about what’s coming down the pipe and we’re likely to get some new ideas in the process.

It was in a recent Zoom product meeting when Matt, (our Obsessive Technical Director) threw a virtual book in James’ (our distracted Marketing Manager) face that we actually made a commitment to find the time to do this.

This is our first instalments of Roadworks, it’s about new roads and we hope you enjoy hearing about how we operate as a team and how we create roads. We also hope the new road we’re planning gets you excited.

 

DECIDING ON A NEW ROAD

We’re 100% behind the expansion of our roads. We believe in realism and we always create roads that have some significance either within the sport of cycling or that are geographically or visually exciting. We will not create fictional worlds, to make the RGT short list it has to be somewhere you could ride in real life.

We also ask our user groups and social media groups, more recently we have been able to use the Magic Roads feature to inform the decision of where and what to build based on where people are creating their own roads. 

As a final part of making this decision we will also have internal discussions about the future and look at the sports cultural trends.

PLANNING A NEW ROAD

Although selecting where and what to build isn’t straightforward, it is the easier part of planning. The second stage is to pull together mood boards, gpx files, art direction, artists etc. to bring the road to a point where the artists can start work.

Our art direction document is 25 pages, the mood boards are an extensive mix of colours, images, skylines and “things” that we would like to capture in the end product.

We also use Google maps and 360 video and photography to get a realistic overview.

Once we have pulled this together the process of producing the roads can begin

BUILDING NEW ROADS

This is the part where things get technical. The art team will start with a carefully smoothed GPX file. This is loaded into RGT’s Magic Road feature and this, in turn, procedurally creates the terrain (our artists like the word procedural)

The terrain map is then loaded into our 3d software and a basic track is added so we can test ride the road to check for lumps, bumps, tight turns and overlaps before proceeding.

Once this test ride is complete (by a group of giddy cyclists and a bot or two) the art team starts to add the larger geographical shapes using real world heightmaps and the sky (at least for holding).

After this is complete simple textures are added to the road and scenery and placeholder assets and buildings are dropped in. At this stage the whole world looks like a random and rather rubbish 1990’s MegaDrive game (think Zwift).

Another test ride or two is taken before adding more placeholder assets and some extra detail.

At a point when the art team are happy with the placeholders, buildings, road etc. the placeholder assets are replaced with more detailed assets along with varying Levels of Detail (LOD’s) for each asset. The same tree may have three LOD’s, low level, moves through medium and to high level depending on the distance from the rider.

Finally the landscape is painted with multiple textures blended together using custom shaders.

We’re now at a point where the road is becoming ready to ride but, this is the first time I have been part of this process, it is happening right now, and the next steps remain a mystery to me.

As we move closer to launching our new roads I will update this article (or write another one) so you can understand the process from start to finish.

Update

It’s now a month since I provided you with the initial post for our road building process.

The visual appearance of the roads and the level and depth of detail have been improved massively.  We’re expecting to have the final test version of the road available for our testers very soon.

All I can really add to the process above is that the final three or four weeks are where the road becomes the vision.

Check out the images below for a sneak peak of the final road…

It’s GRAVEL!

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK

Have a new road in mind, want to add your thoughts? Add your comments in the thread below.

22 thoughts on “ROADWORKS

  1. Avatar
    Adrian Bennett says:

    This new road looks great and I’m really looking forward to riding it.

    The 2 existing climbs are fantastic but it would be great to incorporate them into a larger route. It feels slightly disappointing to get to the top of one of these climbs then either turn round & descend or load a new route.

    Keep up the great work though 🙂

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      Thank you, Adrian – We will.
      We also have some ideas on what we can do when you finish a route!
      We have learned from our experience that point to point routes are perhaps not always the best.

      • Avatar
        Adrian Bennett says:

        That’s brilliant James 😀
        Really excited about what you guys are doing and where the platform is heading 👍🏻

  2. Avatar
    Chuck says:

    Looks fantastic! I echo the ability to “join” routes… perhaps have a feature to select a 2nd route that automatically follows completion? With an option to save as one ride or separated by roads (Strava etc.). I do greatly appreciate the auto turn around for topping off time or distance!

  3. Avatar
    Tim Sinclair says:

    Do I have to get nobbly tires for my trainer now? 😉
    I’m really looking forward to this new road – it’s getting a lot of users quite excited!
    I love the honesty and the unique way that RGT listens to its users – and then acts on what it hears 🙂
    The future’s bright – the future is RGT!

  4. Avatar
    Brian Keane says:

    exciting! and great to see teasers on new route. Also kudo on getting accredited for everesting with hells 500! Was delighted to see that news

  5. Avatar
    Dannie Feekes says:

    Hope that you consider putting out an open source road map development kit. I expect that you’ll find members will create some of the best roads for you (for free).

  6. Avatar
    JP says:

    I find it very odd that roads seem to get constructed and maintained without any real map information involved. There is a lot of vector-data about roads, elevation data, even building data out there some of it even freely. For example, mapping a GPX to openstreetmap or opencycling would make a lot of sense, I think.
    One of the things I really miss about the roads and especially the magicroads in RGT is that they are not properly shown in the context of a map, e.g. openstreetmap. I want to see the course when I browse through routes, especially on routes created by others.

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      Hi JP
      Thanks for your feedback. Not 100% sure what you mean. Would you like an overhead view of the map somewhere in the GUI so you can see where you are in relation to the rest of the route or something else?
      Thanks again!

      • Avatar
        Ian says:

        Hi James, what you describe is certainly a feature I would like. An overhead view of the route showing a plan view and where I am in relation to this. I would like it to have an on/off toggle on the phone app and would see it sitting in the lower right area of the screen. By the way, great job with Reiver 🙂

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