Beacon Summer 2022 Development Update

It's time for another annual roadmap and status update.

Server Upgrades

Today's maintenance was rougher than anticipated, but that's always how it goes. But it's worth it, because Beacon services are much better off with this batch of changes.

Most importantly, I haven't been happy with Beacon's response times in some parts of the world. Beacon has been hosted from a server in New Jersey since its inception. This gives a reasonable access time in the most populated parts of the world, but leaves Australia (and its neighbors) with a very long ~900ms time to first byte. I've wanted to do better for a long time, but scaling has been a weakness of mine when it comes to IT skills.

With this new architecture, Beacon now has three servers: one "master" you'll never directly interact with, a server in New Jersey, and a server in Sydney. Should the need arise, additional servers could be added in about 30 minutes. I don't want to go overboard of course, as these cost money, but I could see putting one in Frankfurt and San Francisco. We'll see what the future holds.


With these new servers, I've taken the opportunity to improve user privacy in a couple ways. I'm a big fan of privacy and avoid sharing user data unless absolutely necessary. There were two areas I noticed I could do better.

Until today, the website used Adobe Fonts, which means user browsers would contact Adobe's servers to retrieve the font files. Their privacy policy sounds pretty fair to me, but why give them anything at all? So Beacon's website now hosts its own fonts.

The second area is IP addresses. To help users identify where their accounts are in use, user IP addresses were stored with the session info. I've decided to anonymize those addresses. So rather than the address will appear as in Beacon's database. For IPv6 addresses, I've followed Google's lead and store only the first 80 bits.


In the near future, I'm hoping to finish up a new help system with much better content that is part of Beacon's GitHub repository, so anybody with a GitHub account could contribute. I'm also looking to introduce Beacon for Windows ARM64 devices, as well as a version for Linux operating systems.

I have new features in the works for Beacon too. I've talked about it for a while, but I want to introduce a way to simulate creature spawns to help users better predict when their designs will go haywire. I've also completed work on a technique to automatically discover mod info by running a local Ark server, so that will be a ton of fun to release.

In the farther future, I'm interested in adding support for additional games. 7 Days to Die, DayZ, and Arma come to mind, as their config designs are pretty similar to each other. This is not a promise, just something I'm investigating.

I currently have no plans for a Beacon 1.7 version. I think if (or when) I'm ready to introduce support for additional games, that's when I'll bump to Beacon 2.0.

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