June 2018 Development Update

Hey, Beacon updates have been pretty few and far between, haven't they? I wanted to take a few minutes to share what's going on, though I'm sure you've read this same basic article from other developers.

Delays, personal life, blah blah blah. I know. Bear with me.

My Near Term Goal for Beacon

Beacon is in a pretty good spot right now, but the interface has not really grown well to accommodate all the new features. For a while, I've been working on a major user interface update for Beacon to resolve current issues and leave room to grow in the future.

This update must launch before Ark: Extinction is released on November 6th. I've set my deadline for October 6th, though I hope to be ready sooner than that. There's not really a ton left to do. I've put my todo list on GitHub for all to see.

Should I fail to hit this deadline, I can add the Extinction UI elements to the existing version of Beacon. I keep two branches of development active for a reason. I don't particularly want to add to the master branch, because there will be annoying merge conflicts with the development branch, but if I have to do it, I'll do it.

My Long Term Goal for Beacon

There are things I want to do with Beacon, but let's be honest, Ark is nearing the end of its life. I have doubts that I'll actually get to these goals. Ideally, though, Beacon would only require tweaks to support the inevitable Ark 2. So maybe I'll work towards these anyway.

I want Beacon to support more configuration options. Preferably, all of them.

I also want to create a mobile version, with all the config options supported. But I'll be honest with you right now, by mobile I mean iOS. This is because I'm an iOS user myself, I don't have any Android devices, and I have no Android dev tools. The tool I use to write Beacon is called Xojo and it supports iOS development, but not Android. However, Xojo's Android support is coming, so Beacon for Android is not out of the realm of possibility but I am not promising it either.

Why Development Has Been Slow

It's a number of factors these days. Only one of them is even slightly surprising.

  1. I don't play Ark as much, mostly because my group has moved on to other games. We come back from time to time though. Ever since Ark's content drops have slowed down, keeping player interest has been difficult. During the early access, Ark would get major updates roughly every month and keep us coming back.
  2. I'm a father of two young girls who demand lots of play time.
  3. The older of those two started school this past fall, which requires I get up earlier in the morning, which requires I go to bed earlier. I've basically lost 3 hours a day that I used to be able to develop Beacon in. Trying to balance dev time and play time is much harder with more than half of my free time gone each night.
  4. And extended family health issues.

It's mid-June and I still don't have my pool open and the yard is looking more than a bit unkempt. So finding time for Beacon is pretty hard. Summer vacation starts next week, so ideally I'll be able to devote a few more hours each week to Beacon and get back on track.

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