Team Meat's Tommy Refenes Offers Extensive Steam Controller Impressions

by Kyle Hilliard on Sep 28, 2013 at 05:45 AM

Team Meat's programmer Tommy Refenes has spent time with Valve's unique controller playing games like Super Meat Boy and Spelunky, and has written up a lengthy blog detailing his impressions of the new device.

You can check out the full blog here where Refenes begins by explaining how picky he is about his controllers. He refused to play PlayStation 3 games until Sony was able to release the DualShock 3, which released about two years after the launch of the console.

Refenes spent most of his time with the controller playing Super Meat Boy, a game he is obviously very familiar with. He designed all input and player control for the game, so it gave him an excellent understanding of the Steam Controller's interaction with a game.

Refenes addresses one of the most immediate concerns that appeared when Valve revealed the controller yesterday, which was the presence of touchpads instead of control sticks and buttons. Refenes says the four buttons surrounding the touchscreen in the middle of controller are not placed with the intention of being used for gameplay, but rather menu and back functions. In regard to using a touchpad in place of a button Refenes says, "Valve has tried to rectify this by having some adjustable haptic feedback fire when you press one of the circle pads. Throughout my play session the haptic feedback helped with the problem, but wasn’t enough to solve it."

Refenes says that he does miss having tactile touchable buttons on the right touchpad, and he offered some feedback to Valve that it might consider placing cardinal feelable nubs on the pad. This is a change that may still have the possibility of being implemented.

Overall, Refenes' feedback is positive, but based purely on familiarity, he says he will probably still go with the Xbox 360 controller for PC gaming. Refenes said, "If tomorrow all game controllers were wiped off the earth and the only option was the Steam Controller, I don’t think this would be a bad thing." Make sure to check out Refenes full blog here.

For more of our own impressions of the Steam Controller, head here.

[Source: Tommy Refenes]


Our Take
Refenes has offered some fantastic feedback here, especially for playing a platformer. It's especially great to hear from the perspective of a programmer who clearly values the quality of his input devices. Personally, I can sort of see how games like shooters and games that require precision mouse-clicking might benefit from a touchpad, but I was curious how twitchy games like platformers would translate. It sounds like it's better than I may have expected, but not perfect.