There’s been a bit of confusion over the various updates to ROME II recently and what’s coming next, so here’s a quick summary.
First a bit of technical detail on what happens when we update a TW game, because that will hopefully help with the explanation.
When we release a patch or DLC for our games, we are of course making a changes to the game. Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of changes; code changes (changes to the games executable file, i.e. Rome2.exe) and content changes (changes to the assets that the game uses, including models, audio, text, the database etc. that come in the form of .pack files in the game’s data folder).
Code changes need to go to all players, to keep the version and experience of the game the same for everybody. This also ensures that everybody’s version of the game is compatible with new content. This is especially important for multiplayer, so that all players are playing the same version of the game. This means that sometimes when we release DLC everyone downloads the data in a patch even if they don’t buy the DLC so that their version of the game is current and they can see the new units or factions when they play against someone using them in multiplayer.
Content changes can be made without code changes. Different players can also own different content of course. For example, one player may own the Total War: ROME II Nomadic Tribes Culture Pack DLC, and another may not. However, in this case, both players will still need to have the same version of the game, and so the same code changes. All players will have received an update when Total War: ROME II Nomadic Tribes Culture Pack DLC was released, which included fixes and code to make the game aware of the new content, and some of the graphics/data to ensure that the new units show up in multiplayer correctly even if that player hasn’t purchased that DLC (or picked it up for free in the giveaway week).
Most of the time, when we release a patch or DLC, we release both code changes and content changes at the same time, so all players will experience an update, whether they get new content changes or not. If a player gains ownership of new content (by buying DLC for example), and already has the latest version of the game (latest code changes to Rome2.exe), only the extra data pack(s) of content changes will be downloaded, and not any code changes (changes to the games executable file Rome2.exe). Depending on the DLC and how much of it has already been downloaded as part of the update for the above reasons, the size of this download on purchase can vary greatly.
As explained in posts before, not all patches are equal in size, when we name them they are just given the next ascending number so we can track them internally as they are built and published. Patch 6 was effectively the update that allowed the game to recognise the Blood & Gore DLC yesterday, so that when you buy the DLC it works correctly with the game and, even if you choose not to buy it, we have made sure that everyone has the very latest version, so that when we patch in the future we are sure that everyone’s is at the same point.
It did also include some very minor fixes (correction for black terrain and issues running in non-administrator mode in windows for some people, namely), and we will update the patch notes page on the wiki to reflect this.
The core team’s main focus since patch 5 has been patch 7, which is currently being prepared for open beta. So expect to see some news on this soon.
As we’ve mentioned before, the TW team work on multiple different patches and new game content in parallel at the same time, it’s not always required that the whole team work on one specific tech issue at the same time.
Please note that we won’t specify dates on when patches will enter open beta or go live as we may decide that they need further work or content added at the last moment and we don’t want to cause disappointment.
Patch 7 certainly won’t be the last update we make to the game, as we announced before ROME II launched we have an extensive plan for post-release updates including free additional content and features: http://forums.totalwar.com/showthread.php/74026-Post-launch-support-plans-and-even-more-free-content-for-Total-War-ROME-II!
But as Mike Simpson mentioned recently, the interval between updates will increase as deeper gameplay and AI changes take longer to test. It would be fair to say though that the frequency of updates will be higher than any TW game to date for the foreseeable future.