Ahh, how I miss Dota 2 patch note parties. They were glorious affairs that could go on for several hours, where me and my Dota chums would hop on skype and pour over literally hundreds of major changes to the game that formed a major part of our lives. Those mega updates would arrive a couple of times a year, and they'd mix the games up so much that much of it would have to be relearned. Dota would still get tweaked throughout the year, but those changes would typically revolve around balance adjustments rather than new additions or major reworks.
It looks like those patch note parties are a thing of the past, to be replaced with patch note... nibbles? Lead developer 'Icefrog' has tweeted to say that instead of huge twice-yearly updates they're going to try smaller, fortnightly patches for the next 6 months.
Here's the tweet:
We want to try taking a different approach to how gameplay patches are released. Instead of big patches a couple of times a year, we'll be releasing small patches every 2 weeks on Thursdays. We'll be trying this out for about six months and then reevaluating.
— IceFrog (@IceFrog) February 1, 2018
He added that they'll also be introducing "a new in-game feature to notify you of any recent changes to heroes in your match". It sounds invaluable - I've lost track of the number of times that I've had a plan or item build foiled by a change that I wasn't aware of. Now that significant changes are coming every two weeks, it should prove indispensable.
My thoughts are more conflicted about the changes to how often updates will come, and how big they'll be when they do. The fortnightly updates aren't going to come close to matching the excitement that came with the mega ones, and I'll miss reading through those patch notes where there'd be a dozen or more changes that would make me sit back and shake my head in wonderment. Each big update was a sea change, where multiple additions and major hero redesigns would feed into each other and make it feel like the entire game had shifted beneath your feet.
They were also good opportunities to jump back into the game, as I found with the recent(ish) Duelling Fates update. Getting back into Dota after taking a long break is a difficult process. You'll lose not just because you're rusty, but because you have to adjust everything that changed while you were away: playing immediately after a big update at least meant that everyone else was still adjusting too.
On the other hand, I can see the advantages that regular updates will bring. While exciting, having to relearn the game after a big update could also be exhausting. These smaller changes should be much less overwhelming - but maybe I want to be overwhelmed every now and then.
The fortnightly updates will come out every Thursday, though I can't tell if that means we'll get the first one today or in two weeks time.