The lights are on
As we reported on Wednesday, Valve has developed a controller intended for use with SteamOS (and Steam on other platforms) and the Steam Machines coming in 2014. The Steam Controller isn't exactly like a console controller, though.
Instead of thumbsticks, the Steam Controller features track pads. There is a touchscreen in the middle, and the four buttons found on standard gamepads (Xbox 360 controller and DualShock 3) are placed around the trackpad.
Valve's selling proposition is that the Steam controller is designed to work with the entire Steam library, even those games that don't support gamepads. It accomplishes this by including a legacy mode that mimics keyboard and mouse functionality. Valve claims the fidelity approaches that of a high-end gaming mouse.
The Steam Controller also contains more sensitive and nuanced haptic feedback (rumble). The controller is fully "hackable," though, which means that users will be able to configure the hardware and the keybindings (and share them) however they please. Selection for the Steam Controller beta will be handled via the same process as the Steam Machines beta.
Our TakeThis week has seen a trio of related announcements that herald Valve's push to bring PC gaming into the living room. An operating system, a variety of hardware configurations, and now a controller that Valve believes is better suited for the PC than Microsoft's Xbox 360 gamepad (a favorite of many) could be a powerful combination, but we won't know for sure until next year.
This week has felt more like a series of teasers than anything substantial. There are no screenshots or mockups of SteamOS as an interface and no idea of how even the prototype Steam Machines are configured. The controller, while possibly better suited to titles that aren't playable with traditional controllers doesn't look comfortable or feasible for precision-based shooters. A lack of elevated thumbsticks seems like it would decrease precision.
I'm interested in trying this controller for myself, but I think there is going to be a lot of skepticism until gamers try it out. Moving the buttons around is going to mean relearning muscle memory, and the track pads need to be markedly better than the other flat-surface control mechanisms we've come to loathe for precision gaming (tablets and phones).
Until there is some evidence that developers are jumping aboard the SteamOS train, the operating system remains best conceptualized as a streaming box that requires another PC (or Mac) for content. I'm not convinced that SteamOS fills a need or solves an existing problem. I'm also not certain why developers would invest in a Linux/SteamOS version of a game that is simply going to be free via SteamPlay and garner no substantial funds.
As for the Steam Controller, I'm not sure that anyone is going to choose to play an RTS on this rather than with a mouse and keyboard. Traditional PC shooter fans likely won't abandon their control scheme of choice for this. I'm really not sure who this controller is for yet.
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That controller looks hideous.
it may not look the part.....but Valve hasn't failed me yet and i have a lot of faith in them. They know what they are doing, so I think this controller will prove to be better than it may seem
This look really awkward. I don't mind the track pads as joysticks, but the button placements look terrible. However, I will reserve my final judgement if I ever get to try it out.
So... No HL3?
My initial reaction was that it looked incredibly uncomfortable. However I think that's just because it has such an alien design. I'm interested, but not confident.
I think it has potential.
I'll agree that a mouse is more sensitive and precise than an analog stick.
but I'll never accept that pressing WASD and contorting my pinky to hold Z is better than just using a game pad. analog pressure is great for sneaking games, too, something that can't be replicated on a keyboard.
I often argue that a good compromise would be holding a controller in my left hand for movement and using a mouse to aim. this Steam Controller looks like a version of that idea, and I can't wait to try it.
It's weird. But I'm eager to see how it works - I hope some places like Best Buy or Gamestop set up kiosks when some Steam Machines start coming out. I don't really see the logic in replacing sticks with touchpads, to be honest, but it should be fine in theory.
The problem with touch input as sticks/dpads in the past was that they weren't placed in the right spot to act as those (like with the DS), and that they were also the screen (like with God-awful virtual sticks on smartphone games). This design sidesteps those flaws... though it seems to create some new ones by putting your main input buttons around the centralized touchscreen instead of where face buttons traditionally go. It's nice to know it works with ALL PC games, not just ones that traditionally have controller support, though. It's all very interesting.
I think it's cool that they thought outside of the box. But I still hope these machines have USB ports so you can plug in 360/PS3 pads... and keyboards/mice I guess, if you're THAT sort of gamer ;)
I don't want to discard this controller just yet, but I have serious doubts about its ergonomic and precision.
I'll wait and see, but juts to mention it beforehand, it UGLY.
Looks expensive. But just the insanity behind the design has peaked my interest. I kinda wanna try it. Who knows, could be the next big thing.
I have never enjoyed swipe screens and pads that mimic them when it comes to movement, especially camera angles and views. First person games are in general tough for me when it is set up like this. I would prefer thumb pads for that function. It looks neat, and I will always give something a chance!
The controller looks fine to me. Along with the fact that it's Valve, it must be able to play fine as well. i can imagine controlling with the pads will be really smooth as a mouse and keyboard but we'll have to wait and see what beta testers have to say about that. Here's hoping it turns out successful
I won't write it off as a bust just yet, but it does look incredibly hard to get used to.
If it works well some people will like it, if not then it was a good try. As long as its not shoved down our throats like Kinect then it will be fine.
Steam OS is a GREAT IDEA. A OS that is BETTER suited toward gaming. I hope they can get the community to make a way for the games to play on Linux. There are plenty of people in the Linux community who would gladly help Valve out and make it happen.
"The controller, while possibly better suited to titles that aren't playable with traditional controllers doesn't look comfortable or feasible for precision-based shooters. A lack of elevated thumbsticks seems like it would decrease precision."
Perhaps the stupidest thing I've ever read on Game(dis)Informer. I am forced to question both your intelligence and your experience as a gamer.
Analog thumbsticks are an absolutely awful input device for shooters. These high end trackpads will offer similar precision to to a mouse. Anyone who can't see that lacks sufficient experience, knowledge, or intelligence.
Again, I find myself baffled by the quality of gaming journalism today. It's just astonishing to me how much more experience and knowledge, especially technical, I have compared to the average game journalist, and that is without any attempt by me to stay up-to-date on the industry. The state of gaming journalism today is simply abysmal. 50% of stories written by gaming journalists are reprehensibly inaccurate.
In my absolutely not humble opinion, I think gaming journalists have no business in the industry until they have spent at least 10 years as an adult experiencing every facet of gaming, as both a PC gamer and console gamer, owning every console, trying their hand at every genre, and getting at least some minor experience in game development. Most other industry journalists have at least some experience doing real work in the industries they write about, and it's about time gaming journalists did the same.
I loath track pads. It shocks me that Valve would try to be so different to the point of it being damaging. Replace the track pads with thumb sticks and they have a winner. For gamers who want kb/m, they will use exactly that. Not some controller that looks like the spawn child of a laptop and a game pad.
Eh. I thought the three announcements were... disappointing. The Steam Machines were cool, SteamOS I'm mixed, and they could've easily announced the controller with the SteamMachines announcement.
Can't tell if I'm looking at a controller or high tech speakers.
My first reaction to the button layout was "WTF?!" then i thought "wait a minute, this is designed by mouse function for right handed people. ok I get it now"
the concept of this controller is in my opinion a reasonable layout, although like others I also understand that the difference in controller functions and this game pad will need to be 're learned' however, I myself would probably purchase it simply because it works with games that are not controller compatible. I like that idea.
Like all new designs incorporated into standard uses it is something that needs to be adjusted to in order to understand its full potential.
Basically what I am saying is this;
1: its designed based on mouse controls (reverse layout)
2: Its compatible with ANY of the steam games
3: It is new tech so, it needs some time
Until we can get some hands on time with this piece of equipment we really do not know how well it will work compared to our use of the xbox controller. which is why I am staying open to the idea that it might be a good piece of equipment.