Red Post Collection: Riot Games Merch Store Beta Now Live, IronStylus on Dr. Mundo, Zz'Rot Portal Discussion, and more!

Posted on at 5:40 AM by Moobeat
This morning's red post collection features the beta launch of Riot's new merch store, including a look at the new products and a brief Q&A. You'll also find IronStylus squawkin' about Dr.Mundo visuals and "Boobplate",  Reinboom with a large discussing on Zz'Rot's portal, and more!
Continue reading for more information!



Table of Contents


Riot Games Merch Store Beta Now Live

The new Riot Games merch store is now open and oodles of new League of Legends themed items are now available for purchase - including clothing, figures, posters, plush and more!

[http://merch.riotgames.com/]

You can swap your chosen region by clicking the flag in the upper right or by following these links

NORTH AMERICA
LATIN AMERICA
EUROPE
ASIA PACIFIC

In the event you can't access the store, here are a few screen shots of the beta store's product line up! Be aware that the prices vary region to region and some items may be unavailable or out of stock in your specific region.











Here's the official release announcement from Bradmore:
"We’re excited to announce the beta launch of the Riot Games Merch Store. Players have been asking for official merch for a while, and we wanted to make sure that we created an experience that felt authentic to the LoL universe. To do this, we spent the last year putting together our initial store and developing products that capture some of our favorite parts about League. 
The store is still under development, and although it’s ready to go for beta, we are going to continue to work to level up the overall merch experience. Expect to see real-time changes during the beta as we evolve the site and merch catalog. Our primary focus is on learning, adapting, and evolving in order to ensure that we ultimately deliver a merch experience that raises the bar on awesome. We’re excited to share the site and look forward to shaping the experience with you along the way. 
Go to The Riot Games Merch Store 
Learn more about the Beta launch:

Following the launch, Redbeard, Bradmore, and Tocelote returned to the boards to answer more questions and respond to feedback on the newly opened store:
"Hey Everyone, 
As I'm sure you've heard by now, we are finally live with our merch beta store ( http://merch.riotgames.com ) , awww yeah! 
We wanted to create a central hub for feedback on the store, and I'll be here, along with Bradmore and Tocelote to respond to feedback you have throughout the day. 
EDIT - Working on performance issues atm, sorry all."

When asked why the EU shop wasn't able to purchase the Rammus Poro plush and why the prices are higher in EU than in NA, Bradmore commented:
"Rammus poro for EU was held up in customs unfortunately. An allotment is coming for EU but it was not ready for the launch of beta. 
Regarding EU and NA pricing-- the difference is driven by VAT and duties. EU prices include VAT and NA prices do not."
Hitstreak added in:
"Hey there, VAT is included in EU pricing while sales tax isn't included for NA prices. Prices across regions are very comparable."

Tocelot also commented they there are plans to expand the shop to more countries:
"We definitely plan to expand distribution to additional countries beyond the initial scope of this beta"
Bradmore reiterated this in response to another post, saying:
"We want to make merch available to as many countries as possible as soon as possible and are actively working to add more shipping destinations including Ukraine. Thanks for your patience!"

and on average shipping time, Tocelot noted:
"Shipping times vary based on destination (NA it should 5-7 business days average) but check out the Shipping & Delivery page in the footer of your website for more detail"

Hitstreak also commented on the shops website stability, saying:
"We're aware of issues with site performance and are actively working on getting them resolved. Thanks for hanging in there!"

When asked if the product descriptions could be more detailed, RedBeard agreed:
"Agree on the product descriptions, big note of feedback that we need to pivot on going forward. Thanks Asuka"
Riot Wishling also added:
"Those are some great recommendations. Besides more and better photography (they look great and we want to show them off too), we are definitely looking at ways to buff up product descriptions. The tricky part is getting those localized into all of the different languages we support in an efficient and sustainable way. We aspire to do so much more in the future and will definitely learn a lot through this beta ~ Thanks!"

In response to community member Blakinola's worry with cross regional pricing, the high cost of the hoodies, and the size of the figures, RedBeard replied:
"NA and EU prices are very similar, NA prices don't include VAT and duties, EU does. 
Don't have a banana, but Bradmore posted this:
to give some scale. They are ~3.5 inches and think people will be excited when they get them. 
Also a few more notes by Bradmore: 
Thresh - May be tough to tell from pictures without these actually being in the wild, but using the Thresh hoodies as an example, we invested in everything from the fabric quality and weight (350gsm French terry) to finishes like the custom zipper pull and premium commercial grade glow ink that is the best in the market for brightness and duration. We wanted these hoodies to not only look and feel great, but also last a long time. 
Figures - The figures are larger than standard chibi style figures. Many elements are hand painted and these are intended to be higher quality than figures that retail for $15. We've also invested in packaging and NFC enabled cards of authenticity that are included with each box. 
p.s. big fan of yours! keep on keepin' on!"
When asked what the Thresh statue was made out of, Bradmore noted:
"The Thresh statue is made of PVC and ABS plastic and we worked with our manufacturing partner to push to introduce more detail and texture via investments in tooling (e.g, to create the leathery scaling on Thresh's legs) and paint operations to accurately capture the iridescence of his coat. Hope that helps!"

Regarding the steep price tag on the Thresh & Freljord themed hoodie, Redbeard noted:
"Those hoodies are very high quality. It's tough to tell from the pics, and we probably need to do better with the product descriptions, but per Bradmore: 'we invested in everything from the fabric quality and weight (350gsm French terry) to finishes like the custom zipper pull and premium commercial grade glow ink that is the best in the market for brightness and duration. We wanted these hoodies to not only look and feel great, but also last a long time.' 
Looks like they are too pricey for a lot of people, so going to work on designing other hoodies that are less expensive."
Bradmore added in:
"The detailing on the Demacia Hoodie actually features gold metallic embroidery as opposed to an iron-on design. We'll clarify that on the site. Thanks for the feedback."


As for when we can expect new and different types items hit the shop, RedBeard noted:
"Yup - more stuff incoming over the coming weeks and months."
He continued in a later replying, saying:
"More products incoming over the coming months, wanted to get this live and get feedback as soon as we could."
Bradmore jumped in to add:
"Thanks for the feedback! We'll be introducing more products at different price points over time. The reward system is a great idea as well. We had a couple of Amumu products in R&D but they didn't work out (at least in time for beta launch). We'll continuing iterating and will definitely increase the number of champions represented in the store over time."
and more sizes coming!
"In addition to building out our product assortment, we're evaluating size ranges as well. Thanks for the feedback as it helps to inform those types of decisions going forward."
Hitstreak also added in:
"There's more stuff coming, don't worry. And we're not limiting champions to a specific number of products."
He also commented that 16/122 champions are currently on some for of product in the shop:
"We've only got 16/122 champions represented on the store at the moment - give us time!"

As for ways to involve community artists, RedBeard noted:
"Want to empower the community, so large, engaged, and talented, so would be remiss to not have this on our roadmap. 
Nothing coming soon on this, but something we want to tackle eventually."

IronStylus on Dr. Mundo and Boob Plates

In a thread lamenting how there is never much discussion on a potential visual update for Dr. Mundo, IronStylus swooped in to share his thoughts on the Madman of Zaun:
"rekt.

Anyway.. we were just talking about this yesterday. One of our 3D artists is a big fan of making crazy brute characters and was wondering where he was at on the list. Right now we don't have him hard slotted, but I do have a concept for him hanging around.

One of the current challenges with him is that we would have to do an entire teardown of his old character art if we wanted to do what we'd LIKE to do. Which is probably along the lines of less of a grape flavored Hulk, with the ripped shirt, pants and all. I think the big semi-grotesque upper body would stay similar with his legs being more or less.. not "normal".. but less deformed. Putting him solidly in the "freak" category and not the "hulk" category which is where we've put Sion. He very much needs a new rig to execute at the level we'd want to. There's even a thought of him model-swapping to a larger, more brutal version of himself when he's ulting. This is all talk though, don't take it as a feature promise.

Something I'd like to play around with is figuring out something different to do with his clothing rather than literally a ripped white shirt and brown pants. I was talking with the guys and we were thinking maybe he has what's left of whatever he used to harness himself up to an experimental injection device, or something that feels a little more in line with Zaun.. which isn't exactly well defined right now either.. There's some references like final-boss Fontaine from Bioshock or when Shwarzenegger is restrained in Total Recall when they're trying to wipe his brain, and he pulls off an arm restraint and stabs a guy through the head. I dunno, something that's pieces of wreckage, hard material or "clothing" that tells some sort of story.

Let me know if that's an interesting idea and we'll play around."
 He continued:
"Is that our mantra? Sion would like a word.

If we want to make something canon and it's a better execution, we sometimes have to do some drastic surgery to the base. We as artists have to think of ourselves as being just as open to change as gameplay design. Sometimes to make something healthy we have to dismantle. The idea is to keep the spirit and enhance the experience. If that experience is simply sub-par, we need to reevaluate that experience from the ground up."
While not related to Dr. Mundo, IronStylus also had a beak full of things to say about formfitting yet not particularly functional "boob plate" armor - sharing his personal thoughts, examples of use in the champion's he has designed, and more.
"My bad on the Leona boobplate thing, and the heels.

I'll be honest, I have mixed feelings on the notorious boobplate. One part of me absolutely hates them with the fire of a thousand suns, the other part of me honestly thinks they're fine for certain situations, and as an artist, I don't want to kill a potential design solution. I KNOW. It's not the BEST solution, which is why I'm generally not in favor of boobplates. I think as artists we can be "more clever". How's that for ambiguous?

That said! There are plenty of times I've gone with the boobplate and a few times I haven't. Different reasons for different things. For Leona, let's say, I was pretty new and just did the fantasy thing. Sun Paladin? Cool. Gold bra thing. When Diana came around, I had that symbol of the moon so stuck in my head I was like.. "LET'S PUT THIS EVERYWHERE." and opted to put, what I affectionately like to refer to as the "moon toilet seat" chest guard on her. There were a couple of reasons for that. 1) I like the design choice better. This was a neat read from in-game an I felt that it was a unique solution. 2) I wouldn't say I was intentionally trying to not do the boobplate thing, but I was trying to think of something more interesting or "clever".

Let's see.. my own track record isn't great on this stuff. I think I just enjoy the design experience without too much regard. For some of the other females I've worked on..

Quinn has a form fitting suit, but I think she distinctly has some cut lines in her outfit which mimic the female chest form. I like to think that it's a step in the right direction, but I don't know. I probably could have pushed it.

Sejuani was more about just making a neat armor set for someone from the frozen north that would be protective and semi-decorative. But there's cerrtainly a boobplate on her.

Lunar Reval Diana I guess sorta has a metal bra or something under the cloth and Pool Party Leona has a bathing suit.. so..

Anyways, I think one of the things that guides artists when making clothing/armor design choices is human anatomy. We like to follow the contours and forms of the body for a smooth, integrated feeling. There's some historical context for this such as more ancient armor having a man's pectorals, abs and other muscles defined in the construction. Male fantasy and a lot of sci-fi armor too often follows the form of the pectorals, absominal muscles, shoulders, etc. For one, it's where our body segments. Broad planes tends to be where you're going to see rigid components, and they might take on anatomical features. See Robocop, Master Chief, and a number of other male heroes. Male armor tends to have large board features to sell hardness, tankiness, whatever.

I think often, and I obviously do this too, the default is, again, to follow the anatomy of the body where females are involed, even if we're selling a bulky costume or one that's meant to resist damage. So female armor follows along familiar the planes and forms formula. Chest, neckline, shoulders, abs, etc are often contoured yet rigid components.

I think there's an important word there: "formula". I think when we're all discussing these sort of things we're not necesarilly saying "hey boobplates suck because they're non-functional" (which they are totally indeed non-functional), but maybe we're saying "We're sick of formulaic, we want something fun and new." That's the way I look at it I think. True, I do look at things in a way where I ask myself.. "Ok, how can I not be traditional in the way I approach this design?" It might yield something relatively unique and not often seen, like Diana armor. Or maybe I'm being sorta non-traditional by adding something else weird which is a more important read than a breast plate, like a Leona skirt. True, not an amazing design, but I like to think it's a fun read for her and makes her recognizable.

Sometimes I might be making truly a form fitting thing that actually is ok being form fitting, like Quinn's body suit, and therefore it's ok to show some anatomy poking through. I like Deunan from Appleseed a lot for these reasons. You have a bit of anatomy showing in her SWAT armor but it's pretty fuctional.

I dunno. I know that Kalista has one, but I'm not particularly offended. The concept artist for her is my friend and he was in no way thinking about enhancing any particular thing aside from making her body type into something that wasn't the norm. I think he did really well there. Could Kalista not have a boobplate? Sure, but I'm not offended. I think he made a really killer design, I think that's what matters first and foremost. We can always argue minutia.

So I don't know if you'll ever see them removed completely, or intentionally avoid them in the future. No one is going to make a definitive answer like that. I know that PERSONALY, and I emphasize that with as much bold as I can muster, I'd like to go back and play with some characters and give them a slightly different design. Vayne, Lux, Caitlyn, etc come to mind. Just some opportunities where we might be able to put some spin on characters that already have form-hugging clothing/armor and could use some functionality injected. Again, that's personally speaking. That's not art department decree or anything."

Ghostcrawler on Trinity Force Podcast

Following his recent appearance on an episode of popular Trinity Force PodcastGhostcrawler  scuttled on to the boards to answer a few questions from a listener:
"Quote
I recently listened to the above podcast and it has some interesting insights into the minds of the game designers at Riot games. The whole thing was great, and I like that developers give us these insights. However there are a few points that I wish had been discussed a bit more, because I don't feel like they gave full and coherent answers. 
At minutes 5-15, they discussed that there may be too much vision in the game. However, even in S4 gaining vision around just around Baron or Dragon is an investment of all your vision resources. Now lategame you really need to have vision on both (already difficult), but we want to reduce vision? 
Another concern, discussed a bit, Minute 40 is Riot's goal for increased jungle diversity. My concern here isn't that this is a bad goal, but that it has been the stated goal for seasons 3 and 4, both of which had less diverse jungler champion pools than season 2. It seems that in every season since S2, the jungle has been made harder, and jungle items more important, and diversity has decreased. S5 is an even harder jungle, with even more important jungle items. How is this a coherent strategy? 
Lastly, pick bans, was discussed (too briefly) at 74 mins+. Here I think the devs simply were wrong about how picks/bans affect champion diversity and composition diversity. Their first stated concern is that players can't play niche champions. Sorry to say, but that is true 100% of the time if you allow for bans, it should be a non-factor in designing the system, because you can't avoid it without just going to pure blind pick in competitive. More concerning, however, was that a dev stated that DOTA style pick/ban meant you could shut down whole strategies with 1 ban. The fact is, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of DOTA. You can OPEN UP entire strategies with a ban in DOTA, and thus they have a far more diverse competitive champion (and strategy) pool in competitive DOTA. If anything, this is where I would love clarification, because it seems to me that they are making their decisions on this based on conclusions that are the opposite of what actually happens in another game. 
Cheers!
Thanks for the feedback, McNaulty. We don't always know what kinds of questions we are going to get in an interview like that, so I apologize if any of our answers were hard to follow. (And kudos to the Trinity Force team for giving us the opportunity.)

I'll try and clarify our opinions on some of the points you raised.

1) We did add some additional options for vision for preseason in the jungle, but we didn't take away vision from anywhere else (like wards). This means that players just overall have more vision now than they did before. If we make vision too easy to manage, we take away one potential avenue for game mastery. In other words, if you get a lot of vision just for playing the game, then players who go out of their way to ward every brush don't feel rewarded for doing so.

2) We believe we failed to meaningfully improve jungle diversity previous because it just came down to buffing or nerfing champions. The problem with that approach, as I'm sure is obvious to most players, is that you're just shifting who is the best, not really providing multiple opportunities for different champions to be the best.

I'll risk using an analogy, that like all analogies, isn't going to be 100% perfect but might get the point across. If two teams participate in a foot race, then the faster team is probably going to win. (This doesn't happen all the time in real life where there are a million factors affecting performance, but it's more likely in a video game where movement speed is just represented by a simple stat.) However, if you change the foot race to a triathalon with foot, cycling and swimming legs, there is more opportunity for differentiation. You can have the guy who is really good at swimming or the guy who is really good at cycling.

Previously in League, we worried that jungling came down to who could gank the best, since clearing came down to patterns that could be predicted and mastered with enough games. Our hope with the preseason changes are that there are other avenues for who can be the best, such as the best invader or the best farmer. By adding more variables to the jungle (which yes, does make it harder) we hope to create different variables that allow different champions to be strong or weak. As an example, strong burst damage might take out the scuttler before it scuttles away or let you get a clutch dragon steal, but strong sustain might let you clear quicker, or finish clearing with enough health left to go gank.

3) I'd prefer not to get into a comparison between which game has a better pick/ban system, because in my experience those tend to devolve quickly into a lot of different tangents about which game is better (as well as just getting heated in general).

Instead, let me just talk about the flaws we see with our current pick/ban system. Ideally, the bans are a release valve to handle situations where a champion is just OP or the other team is so good with a particular champion that you want to level the playing field. The pick system tries to be fair about which team ends up with which champion as well as giving teams the opportunity to counter opposing picks. (We don't want League to be won at champ select, but we don't want champ select to be irrelevant either.)

However, when players fear that the linchpin champion for their entire strategy might get banned, it tends to push them towards using more generalist champions, in which they can more readily shift to another generalist champion rather than risk all of time they spent practicing a particular champion-dependent strategy getting shut down. Allowing more or fewer bans doesn't seem to change that calculation too much on the side of the banning team -- you just move down the list of the next perceived overpowered champion or champion you don't want to play against -- but it does increase the chance that the champion you really want to play is removed from the game. Another problem is that picks are used as an additional ban. Players choose champions not because they necessarily want to play them, but because they absolutely don't want to have to play against them.

The way I view it personally is when I am watching a video of a game, I sometimes skip over the pick/ban phase and just get to the action. That's because you can often predict which champs will get picked and banned (which, to be clear, is our fault and responsibility to fix). But, when you get one of those exciting pick/ban phases, it can be really exciting. These usually happen when unusual champs or strategies get chosen and we'd like to develop a pick/ban system that doesn't try to squelch those strategies.

Does that make more sense?

We don't expect redesigning pick/ban will be a magic bullet to solve champion diversity. 
We also think we need to support more strategies in League (which is part of what the preseason changes are all about), update all those champions without meaningful strengths and weaknesses, and just fix champions that are severely overpowered or underpowered. But we do think we can come up with a better pick/ban solution than the one we currently have. We don't have anything to announce and given that, my suspicions are you won't see any changes to pick/ban this season, but it is something we'd love to improve."

Zz'Rot Portal Discussion

As you may have noticed, a new Zz'Rot Portal (formerly Void Portal) is currently testing on the PBE. This new item spawns a void gate on use which constantly summons voidspawn which attack minions and structures.

Riot Reinboom  has been  posting around the forums on the new item, kicking things off by noting that the voidspawn's awarding gold when they die is currently a bug and will be fixed on the PBE shortly:

"The Voidspawn giving any gold is unintended. It will be fixed next time Zz'rot gets an update on PBE."
Reinboom continued:
"The minions providing gold is a bug on PBE. The minions won't provide gold. (The gate itself still does however)"
When asked if killing voidspawn grant any sort of XP reward, she noted:
"They won't. XP can be even more warping than gold; And worse! People won't generally realize it.'

When asked about each member of a team having Zz'Rot's Portal, Riot Reinboom noted:
"Your team can have multiple portals. You can't use multiple Zz'rot Portal actives yourself (they have a shared cooldown, like any other active item does), but there is no restriction currently for a team in that realm.

That said, placing a lot of portals in a concentrated area WILL guarantee you take whatever nearby structures REALLY quickly. 
But you also just all committed a 2.5 minute cooldown to a single focus point. Which can be destroyed. And you all invested 2600 gold for that. 
There's definite trade offs for gate spam and currently I'm okay with those trade offs. :)"

Reinboom continued, discussing the voidspawn's health and how to play against it:
"The voidspawn are relatively weak, especially since they self degrade after 4 seconds of being out (they deal 40% of their max HP to themselves each second after 4 seconds active). 
The play of "dealing with an infinite number of minions" is not very fun in a PVP game, generally. Each of the iterations where the voidspawn were more of the focal point to defend from felt REALLY bad because of that. 
The primary incentive as the defender against the Zz'rot Portal is to take out the void gate itself to stop the minions, not farm the minions. 
That said, for the potential gold disparity point: 
1. The Void Gate is worth gold and if the disparity is too much, we can increase the value of the gate itself. 
2. The player buying and using Zz'rot Portal made an investment into the item, and gold gain from the item is not too different from the idea of gp10 items, Banner of Command, or even Sunfire Cape. 
I'd also like to point out that as the person using Zz'rot Portal, it's more interesting for you when the main objective of it is the nonmoving, tanky point of conflict you created. You can do things like drop it into a bush and then gather your team there to create a gank bush with a free line of dangerous bait coming out. "Ooh, a piece of candy!" etc."
Reinboom also noted the portal placement vs where the voidlings can reach:
"The item scales primarily off champion level and because of that it tends to be a very bad 1st item pick. 
Also, the voidspawn degrades in such a way as so that you can't both protect it under a turret and take another turret with it. A couple of examples: (Click to see the album popup)
In the top lane example, the voidspawn will BARELY reach the outer range of the opposing tower but it will die before the tower even gets a shot off. 
In the middle lane example, the voidspawn will reach the range of the opposing tower with a fair bit of health, but it will die with a single tower shot. 
The voidspawn also don't attack champions. They're not much of a mosquito to the champion itself."

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