Valve Reveals the Steam Controller

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I assume one will come with the steam box, so I'll make my judgement then, If I don't like it, I can buy a $20 keyboard and mouse bundle and use that.

Looks odd but I'd like to try it before going full judge.

A touchscreen in the center? Has Valve actually taken a cue from Nintendo? No way.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Firstly, track pads instead of analogue sticks? Are you fucking kidding me Gaben? It's been tried before, it doesn't work. Analogue sticks offer more tactile feedback, and greater responsiveness. You can tell how fast or slow yoru character is walking without even looking just by feeling the physical response of the analogue stick. Sony tried using trackpads on their Xperia Playstation phone, and while it was a noble endeavour, ultimately it proved to be a far inferior method of input. Analogue sticks have stuck around for a reason Gaben. When it comes to regular controllers (not motion controllers), they work.

If you read the dealy it says that these things are specially designed to offer tactile feedback using haptic tech in the touchpads. Since this is unlike anything you've used before, how can you possibly know how it'll feel?

Personally it's hard for me to imagine anything being WORSE than joysticks. They're so clunky and imprecise, they're only good for when you want to be able to mash your controller like a maniac without consequence.

Secondly, where are the face buttons? Where are the buttons which will readily allow me to input various commands? All I can see is ABXY thrown all the way around a controller. That makes no sense. The reason why face buttons are usually collected into a diamond on the right-hand side of the controller is because a) it allows for easy access to all buttons for the right thumb, and b) it allows gamers to input action commands while still moving using the left analogue stick, which is hugely important for platformers, shooters, and pretty much every other genre in the history of forever. Having four face buttons thrown around the centre of the controller makes about as much sense as the N64's third handle. Less even, because at least the N64 controller worked for FPS games. Good luck trying to input action commands while moving using the Steam controller.

Because how dare a controller have buttons not layed out in the exact arrangement than you're used to. Because clearly the traditional Xbox controller is the only sensible layout for every kind of game. Except that layout makes it impossible to hit any of the four buttons while controlling the right joystick, which is a serious limitation I've run into when trying to map PC games for a controller. With this layout you have 2 buttons you can press while using the left touchpad, and 2 you can press while using the right. The trackpads will also be buttons, but unlike joysticks it probably won't feel incredibly awkward to press them since they're inlaid.

So this thing is literally only going to give you four bumper buttons to play with while using the trackpads, and is going to demand that the rest of your action inputs are done with the weird facebuttons which don't fall within easy reach of the right thumb? How the hell are you supposed to play something like (for argument sake) DmC? Or any sort of game which requires rapid input of various combat buttons?

A traditional controller? It's not like those are going to be wiped off the face of the earth once this thing comes out. Valve's recent statements seem to suggest they don't believe in a one-size-fits-all mentality, so they'll probably support X-Box style controller for games more suited to it. This is for games that would usually be played with a mouse and keyboard.

Lastly, where is the damn d-pad? You're honestly going to put out a controller, and not even include a d-pad? Those things have been mandatory since the 80s. even the 360 controller benefited from having a d-pad. Sure, it may have been a circular piece of unresponsive crap, but at least it let you quickly access items in COD, Dark Souls, Ninja Gaiden II and about a million other games. What the heck are gamers supposed to do instead? Reach across to their keyboards and press the F1-10 keys?

You say the D-pad's been mandatory since the 80s, but it's no longer being used for what it was originally designed for. Now it's pretty much been relegated to being an extra set of buttons for swapping out items/weapons, something the touchscreen on this controller is designed to handle.
The idea that the d-pad is somehow an integral part of modern controllers is goofy. The only modern controller that it really served a purpose for was the wii-mote because it let you turn the thing sideways for some games and play it like a NES controller. For controllers like the X-Box it might as well just be an extra set of buttons.

Analogue sticks work.

For some things, not shooters, not RTSs, not point and click games.

Face buttons work.

Which is presumably why this controller features them[/quote]

D-pads work

D-pads are a vestigial remnant from the 90s that's been rendered obsolete by joysticks and repurposed as a set of extra buttons. It won't be a tragic loss.

Track pads, randomly scattered buttons and a complete lack of a d-pad does not.

You haven't even tried using it yet, how the hell are you so sure? You could be right, this could be an inferior controller, but I have trouble believing valve would place this much faith in a controller if it doesn't make some degree of sense.

DrOswald:

The overlay tells you what button was pressed. After you press it. That really doesn't help things at all. You need to know what button you are going to press before you press it. That is the problem.

I mean, I don't even really agree with jeffers and I can see the terrible problem with that one.

Um...no..

The overlay pops up when you touch the screen, showing you what option you currently have selected. THEN you click the touch screen to confirm your selection.

Where the hell are people getting the idea the controller just pops up a message saying, "You just pressed this option!" after the fact?

Seriously...

Shadowstar38:
They made a controller with no sticks...

This completely misses the point of it being a controller.

Uh huh. So basically you're implying that 'controllers' first appeared during the Nintendo64/Playstation 1 era?

Man, I sure do pity those PSX players. Having to play their games with...their TV remote, I guess?

Grimh:
AAAHHH!!
Something different! Take it away! Take it awaaay!!

Looks interesting for sure.
Gonna need more than fancy pictures and words before I start getting actually excited though.
But yeah it's definitely interesting.

That's essentially one of the two primary responses I've seen from the "detractors".

It's either, as you said, "Ahh! It's different therefore it sucks!"

Or, it's, "Pff. Valve sucks, so this thing will suck!" (look no further than a few specific, frequent posters in this very thread for confirmation)

Seriously, the hypocrisy the gaming community is showing today is staggering. All the fucking time you hear all these keyboard-warrior-types complaining and whining about a lack of innovation and new ideas in the industry. Yet, here comes Valve actually trying something new and innovative and all you hear is bitching about the thing be "different".

You wanted new ideas people? You fucking got. Now maybe give it a try before you go about decreeing the thing the worst invention ever?

Vigormortis:

DrOswald:

The overlay tells you what button was pressed. After you press it. That really doesn't help things at all. You need to know what button you are going to press before you press it. That is the problem.

I mean, I don't even really agree with jeffers and I can see the terrible problem with that one.

Um...no..

The overlay pops up when you touch the screen, showing you what option you currently have selected. THEN you click the touch screen to confirm your selection.

Where the hell are people getting the idea the controller just pops up a message saying, "You just pressed this option!" after the fact?

Seriously...

In that case we are adding in at least human reaction time into the input time. If we have to visually confirm what button we are going to press then that will slowdown the input, not to mention take your attention away from other things happening on the screen. And clutter up the screen. So, yeah, still inferior.

DrOswald:

Vigormortis:

DrOswald:

The overlay tells you what button was pressed. After you press it. That really doesn't help things at all. You need to know what button you are going to press before you press it. That is the problem.

I mean, I don't even really agree with jeffers and I can see the terrible problem with that one.

Um...no..

The overlay pops up when you touch the screen, showing you what option you currently have selected. THEN you click the touch screen to confirm your selection.

Where the hell are people getting the idea the controller just pops up a message saying, "You just pressed this option!" after the fact?

Seriously...

In that case we are adding in at least human reaction time into the input time. If we have to visually confirm what button we are going to press then that will slowdown the input, not to mention take your attention away from other things happening on the screen. And clutter up the screen. So, yeah, still inferior.

Well, seeing how it would be used in place of a D-Pad, which was used mostly for inventory management, which required exactly the same thing...

I'm keen to try this out, which is more than I can say for certain other "revolutionary" controllers....

The B and the Y buttons seem a bit too far away, but without holding it I won't try to judge its functionality. I'm surprised so many people think it is ugly. I rather like the way it looks.

-Dragmire-:
Looks odd but I'd like to try it before going full judge.

Sadly, your breed is a rare breed indeed.

It's a shame the gaming community at large is so childishly pre-judgmental. Without having full info on the thing, nor even having any basis on which to judge it's quality, everyone is already decreeing it the "worst controller since whatever!"

I guarantee you had Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo showcased this thing most of the detractors would be cheering. They'd be singing the companies praises and declaring this controller as a "true next-gen innovation worthy of the next-gen consoles!"

But nope. It's from Valve, therefore it can only either be a completely worthless piece of junk or an over-expensive, "DRM-ridden" tool of consumer exploit.

KungFuJazzHands:

The fanboy reaction has been humorous -- "Revolutionary design!", "It will change the industry forever!", "I'm going to buy one and shove it up my ass for pleasure!", etc. etc.

Valve can't even be bothered to confirm whether it will work outside of the confines of the Steam environment. If it's incompatible with my extensive library of non-Steam games, I've got absolutely zero fucking use for it.

The only thing more humorous than the "fanboy" reactions have been the detractor reactions.

Seriously...they've made for some down-right hi-larious reading. Hell, most of 'em go on entire tirades of complaints and matter-of-fact statements, even though most of their statements are demonstrably false with just a simple read of the info page about the controller.

Example:

"Where are the buttons? I see only a few!"
- the controller has 16 buttons, as well as fully customizable trackpads and a touchscreen

"Where are the thumbsticks?! Touchpads are awful and provide no sensory feedback!"
- the touchpads are high-resolution and have far greater tracking capabilities than other touchpads or even thumbsticks. As well, the new haptic feedback systems, assuming Valve is using gen 3 or 4 models, will provide even greater sensory feedback than a thumbstick or a rumble motor can

"It looks ugly!"
- yes, because form is more important than function, right? The efficiency of a controller isn't as important as making sure the thing looks pretty...

"Touchscreens don't work for gaming! I can't keep glancing at the controller!"
- you don't have to. They very clear explain how the thing alerts you to what's being done on the screen by displaying the requisite information on the main screen.

Really, the list goes on and on.

This is not to say, of course, that this thing isn't above being critiqued and analyzed. And, for all we know, it could very well turn out terrible.

However, the sheer number of negative responses, based solely on a few images and a lack of undestanding, that have been flooding the 'net is astounding. Especially as many of these same voices have been demanding something new from the industry.

As I've said prior: there was a time when many gamers bitched and moaned about thumbsticks. The first time they showed up on the N64 controller, many gamers lost their minds. Many of them screaming that Nintendo had made the "dumbest and most pointless addition to a controller ever! We don't need some stupid plastic stick! Just give us our d-pads!"

But hey. If people are okay with Sony's and Microsoft's version of innovation in input technology[1], then so be it. Some of us want to see more.

Time will tell whether Valve pulled it off or not. Either way, I still don't see this thing replacing keyboard/mouse for many people.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As to your last point, it will be functional outside of the SteamOS environment.

Directly from the article (seriously...why the hell are people not reading that page?) -

The Steam Controller was designed from the ground up to be hackable. Just as the Steam Community and Workshop contributors currently deliver tremendous value via additions to software products on Steam, we believe that they will meaningfully contribute to the design of the Steam Controller. We plan to make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering. We can't wait to see what you come up with.

In essence, if you want to hack/mod the thing to work for something else, you're not only free to but Valve will give you the tools to do so.

[1] Rumble motors in the triggers? Really? I've been left speechless by the fact that that wowed people.

I have spoilered the quotes i am responding to keep the post short


Without actually ever using the Xperia trackpads i have no stance on handheld trackpads as of yet. My experience with laptop track pads is rocky at best however, but the last time I used a trackpad was about 6 years ago. It is possible that these trackpads will work because of new tech advancements though.

I agree, ABXY are in some really weird places, but it seems like they are not intended to be used for anything important or timely. But without trying it out, it is hard to say how badly placed they really are.
However the point i really want to talk about is the N64 controller. I feel that people tend to look at the N64 design without regard for the time it came out. Some even may have never used one before and therefore are baffled by the strange third arm. so here is my two cents on the design

I think that the N64, however poorly designed by today's standards, was in fact a great example of controller design.

When looking at it you have to remember almost all gamers had never used a thumbstick before when it was released, let alone two simultaneously. Navigating 3D space was also a new and exciting prospect and was in a way, a gimmick at that time. Nintendo therefore could not be certain that the thumbstick would be accepted by gamers, or if 3D games would ultimately become a passing fad.
The N64 controller therefore needed to be made in such a way as to insure that it did not become obsolete if the thumbstick failed. To accomplice this they made a controller which could be held in 2 different configurations + a lefty version of one thumbstick. Holding centre and the right arm was for the newfangled thumbstick movement, with the thumbstick at centre so that lefties could swap right for left and use the d-pad for a slightly hampered experience. left side did not have an analogue for A and B buttons. holding the controller at both the right and left arm would in effect make the controller the same as the old SNES controller, with 2 additional buttons. The Z button itself could be seen as a countermeasure to losing one bumper when in using the thumbstick

They saw that games where at a crossroads and that either thumbsticks or D-Pad would become the new standard, but not both. therefore the D-Pad and the thumbstick was not expected to function as navigation at the same time.
N64 controller is the perfect example of innovation without alienating your prior audience, but does have it own issues.
The Thumbstick was flimsy, easily loosened and good at causing blisters for one. The controller was also a little too small for adult hands as well.

Unfortunately i have run out of time to type. so cant respond to the rest of the post.
I hope the steam controller does turn out good though

lacktheknack:

DrOswald:

Vigormortis:

Um...no..

The overlay pops up when you touch the screen, showing you what option you currently have selected. THEN you click the touch screen to confirm your selection.

Where the hell are people getting the idea the controller just pops up a message saying, "You just pressed this option!" after the fact?

Seriously...

In that case we are adding in at least human reaction time into the input time. If we have to visually confirm what button we are going to press then that will slowdown the input, not to mention take your attention away from other things happening on the screen. And clutter up the screen. So, yeah, still inferior.

Well, seeing how it would be used in place of a D-Pad, which was used mostly for inventory management, which required exactly the same thing...

This is exactly true. The point that was originally made, the point that I was backing up, was that the touch screen is a poor as a precise and quick input device.

As an extension to the overall controller? So a developer can custom program quick menu buttons and such? That sounds interesting. And the improvements Valve has made sound like they will greatly improve the usability of the touch screen. But as a replacement for actual buttons you need to be able to press in a split second it is poor.

DrOswald:

In that case we are adding in at least human reaction time into the input time. If we have to visually confirm what button we are going to press then that will slowdown the input, not to mention take your attention away from other things happening on the screen. And clutter up the screen. So, yeah, still inferior.

I'm sorry, but those have got to be some of the flimsiest complaints I've heard thus far.

How would it be any different using this touchpad with pop-up display than using a d-pad to scroll through action items? Please...tell me. Because I'm not seeing it. In fact, I'm of a mind that the touchscreen would allow for more options in that regard; making it superior in this sense.

Also: the pop-up being onscreen is meant to prevent you from having to take your attention away from the screen. I don't see your logic here. Especially as, again with a d-pad, you'd have to glance at your inventory slots anyway.

Besides, in many ways this touchscreen interface is very similar to how one would click an on-screen button with a mouse. You just point and click.

Lastly, slowed reaction time? As opposed to having to move your thumb from the stick, press the d-pad in the right direction, and then moving it back?

In the end, if it's such a worry, the thing can function simply as one big button. No "slowed reaction times". No "cluttered" onscreen alerts. Just press it and go.

Since when did having options become a bad thing? I don't get people today.

[edit]
If this seems hostile, I apologize. I've been incessantly insulted today, simply because I showed an intrigued interest in trying out this controller. Which, apparently, is the equivalent of murdering babies.

I don't understand it fully, but from what I can glean from research there's some seriously cool tech going on with this thing.

It looks a bit weird, but I can't wait to try one out. New things can only help drive the industry forward, even if they don't turn out to be the second coming of christ.

DrOswald:

lacktheknack:

DrOswald:

In that case we are adding in at least human reaction time into the input time. If we have to visually confirm what button we are going to press then that will slowdown the input, not to mention take your attention away from other things happening on the screen. And clutter up the screen. So, yeah, still inferior.

Well, seeing how it would be used in place of a D-Pad, which was used mostly for inventory management, which required exactly the same thing...

This is exactly true. The point that was originally made, the point that I was backing up, was that the touch screen is a poor as a precise and quick input device.

As an extension to the overall controller? So a developer can custom program quick menu buttons and such? That sounds interesting. And the improvements Valve has made sound like they will greatly improve the usability of the touch screen. But as a replacement for actual buttons you need to be able to press in a split second it is poor.

I've never needed to hit the D-Pad in a split second. I've always been in a comparably safe location before accessing inventory because, as you said, it takes your attention away.

You keep acting like the touchscreen is replacing buttons that need to be pressed often and quickly, and I find it distressing that you seem to think that Valve and devs are actually somehow that thick.

And if they ARE that thick, then thank heavens you can remap it!

mmmmmm, it'll be interesting to try out. But I'm not sure if a track pad can fully replace the speed and precision that a mouse has.

I mean my Laptop has a track pad and I use it a lot. but I'm still not nearly as proficient with it as a mouse. If i tried to play a game that needed fast and precise reaction times i would not do very good with a track pad.

lacktheknack:

DrOswald:

lacktheknack:

Well, seeing how it would be used in place of a D-Pad, which was used mostly for inventory management, which required exactly the same thing...

This is exactly true. The point that was originally made, the point that I was backing up, was that the touch screen is a poor as a precise and quick input device.

As an extension to the overall controller? So a developer can custom program quick menu buttons and such? That sounds interesting. And the improvements Valve has made sound like they will greatly improve the usability of the touch screen. But as a replacement for actual buttons you need to be able to press in a split second it is poor.

I've never needed to hit the D-Pad in a split second. I've always been in a comparably safe location before accessing inventory because, as you said, it takes your attention away.

Are you talking about only the specific case in some first person shooters where the d-pad is used for only inventory management? Because D-pads are used for a lot more than that. And in any case, being able to quickly and reliably change inventory while in the middle of a firefight is kind of important. Having to retreat to a place of safety to get the correct grenade type out would be a serious problem.

You keep acting like the touchscreen is replacing buttons that need to be pressed often and quickly, and I find it distressing that you seem to think that Valve and devs are actually somehow that thick.

But that was the original complaint that jeffers had. He said that a d-pad was needed to for precision split second button presses in many case. The response was that the touch screen replaces the d-pad.

DrOswald:

lacktheknack:

DrOswald:

This is exactly true. The point that was originally made, the point that I was backing up, was that the touch screen is a poor as a precise and quick input device.

As an extension to the overall controller? So a developer can custom program quick menu buttons and such? That sounds interesting. And the improvements Valve has made sound like they will greatly improve the usability of the touch screen. But as a replacement for actual buttons you need to be able to press in a split second it is poor.

I've never needed to hit the D-Pad in a split second. I've always been in a comparably safe location before accessing inventory because, as you said, it takes your attention away.

Are you talking about only the specific case in some first person shooters where the d-pad is used for only inventory management? Because D-pads are used for a lot more than that. And in any case, being able to quickly and reliably change inventory while in the middle of a firefight is kind of important. Having to retreat to a place of safety to get the correct grenade type out would be a serious problem.

And that's why I fail at inventory swaps in combat. D-Pad doesn't help.

You keep acting like the touchscreen is replacing buttons that need to be pressed often and quickly, and I find it distressing that you seem to think that Valve and devs are actually somehow that thick.

But that was the original complaint that jeffers had. He said that a d-pad was needed to for precision split second button presses in many case. The response was that the touch screen replaces the d-pad.

What cases are these?

No, seriously. What? I've never used a D-Pad for anything quick and common... ever.

Are they cases like movement, which could be easily accounted for by using the trackpad like an iPod Classic wheel?

Vigormortis:
...*extended dialogue about Valve detractors*...

You won't find me arguing with you here. Parties on both sides have shown an alarming lack of common sense regarding all this new Steam stuff.

As to your last point, it will be functional outside of the SteamOS environment.

Directly from the article (seriously...why the hell are people not reading that page?) -

The Steam Controller was designed from the ground up to be hackable. Just as the Steam Community and Workshop contributors currently deliver tremendous value via additions to software products on Steam, we believe that they will meaningfully contribute to the design of the Steam Controller. We plan to make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering. We can't wait to see what you come up with.

In essence, if you want to hack/mod the thing to work for something else, you're not only free to but Valve will give you the tools to do so.

None of that tells me specifically whether or not the Steam Controller is going to work with games not associated with my Steam account. For all we know, Valve may decide to hard-lock the controller to prevent it from working with non-Steam games. Until Valve decide to release more info, all anyone can do at this point is speculate.

Seriously, I simply want more details from Valve, and people like you keep telling me to "read the information available". That's exactly what I do, and I'm still not getting answers to all the questions I have regarding Steam Universe and Valve's ultimate intentions with the project.

DrOswald:

But that was the original complaint that jeffers had. He said that a d-pad was needed to for precision split second button presses in many case. The response was that the touch screen replaces the d-pad.

A fair point. And I think some may have misspoken before.

What they likely meant to say was, D-pads are all but relecated to functioning as extra buttons nowadays. Therefore, anything that can function as a cluster of customizable buttons can function as a D-pad.

As such, given that the touchscreen is nearly limitless in it's configurations, it can provide a superior replacement to the classic d-pad.

If you're intention is to use a D-pad for purely movement inputs, as in a side-scroller or fighting game, than I doubt the touchscreen would provide a good alternative.

However, if the touchpads are as configurable and sensory responsive as Valve is claiming, then one could conceivably configure one of the trackpads to function; and perhaps even feel; like a d-pad.

Until we get the things in our hands, we just can't know.

KungFuJazzHands:

As to your last point, it will be functional outside of the SteamOS environment.

Directly from the article (seriously...why the hell are people not reading that page?) -

The Steam Controller was designed from the ground up to be hackable. Just as the Steam Community and Workshop contributors currently deliver tremendous value via additions to software products on Steam, we believe that they will meaningfully contribute to the design of the Steam Controller. We plan to make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering. We can't wait to see what you come up with.

In essence, if you want to hack/mod the thing to work for something else, you're not only free to but Valve will give you the tools to do so.

None of that tells me specifically whether or not the Steam Controller is going to work with games not associated with my Steam account. For all we know, Valve may decide to hard-lock the controller to prevent it from working with non-Steam games. Until Valve decide to release more info, all anyone can do at this point is speculate.

Seriously, I simply want more details from Valve, and people like you keep telling me to "read the information available". That's exactly what I do, and I'm still not getting answers to all the questions I have regarding Steam Universe and Valve's ultimate intentions with the project.

They wouldn't hard-lock it to Steam games.

A. That's not possible if it's designed to be hackable. Like... physically impossible.
B. Valve has a habit of not committing suicide.

KungFuJazzHands:

None of that tells me specifically whether or not the Steam Controller is going to work with games not associated with my Steam account. For all we know, Valve may decide to hard-lock the controller to prevent it from working with non-Steam games. Until Valve decide to release more info, all anyone can do at this point is speculate.

Seriously, I simply want more details from Valve, and people like you keep telling me to "read the information available". That's exactly what I do, and I'm still not getting answers to all the questions I have regarding Steam Universe and Valve's ultimate intentions with the project.

A fair point. However...

Given that Valve not only plans to provide the source code to SteamOS, but also the driver and hardware rootkits for the controller, it's almost inconceivable that they'd even attempt to 'lock it to Steam'.

Not because I think they wouldn't want to, but because giving the tools to hack and mod the thing to the community would make it almost impossible TO lock the thing to Steam.

Think of it this way: even if Valve somehow made it only functional with Steam games, if the community at large has access to the driver source-code then Valve can do nothing to stop the community from making the thing function with...anything, really.

Unless Valve decides to sue everyone that tries. But then, what would have been the point of providing the tools to mod the thing in the first place?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yes, that's all still speculative, but generally speaking if a company is giving out the source code and rootkits to one of their devices, they aren't planning to 'lock it down' to anything.

That said, I'm sure certain features may remain exclusive to Steam games. Like shared profile and mod/hack settings. But having access to the core driver software, the modding community could implement similar features in their own way.

Fiairflair:
I'm surprised so many people think it is ugly. I rather like the way it looks.

After the 2DS, I'm pretty much all out of "This controller/system is ugly!" complaints. At least for 2d10 days.

NWJ94:
For one tiny second there I saw the HL3 tag and my heart leapt.

Then I looked twice and the darkness came back...

Ah well, as to the controller I like the idea, but I'm not sure I can see it just yet. I don't see how the pad will allow mouse like control, it looks like I'm just going to be playing FPS's with a laptop mouse. Still though this is Valve, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt till we see some actual games being played with it.

This HL3 tagging has got to stop. It's going to be a "Boy Who Cried Wolf" situation if we give up on HL3 coming out.

As for the controller, I simply cannot see it. Who has hands that wrap around like that and thumbs with the dexterity to control movement well with touchpads? I've been thinking of getting a "Steam Box" a few years down the line, but I'd rather use a mouse and keyboard for any in-game movement/observation than use a touchpad or "trackpad".

That controller gives me the wubs... I forgot to bring in new headphones...

All in all... I really want to try out this "new-age" controller... Maybe it will reunite the console gamers and the PC gamers in unison... or something like that... (Maybe that's HF3's job... I don't even know anymore...)

I am very curious as to the precision, latency and physical feedback of the controller pads. Props to Valve for innovating, especially as it is seemingly with usability in mind - something sorely needed in this day and age.

Actually all the major game industry players deserve bravos for innovating peripherals: Microsoft with Kinect (although it did not turn out that well), Sony with Vita's back touch controls and of course Nintendo for the Wii motion control.

This is... Odd, to be quite frank:

- The Track Pads instead of Analogue sticks are... Funky. But hey, the Wii worked with Motion Controls, so maybe this will be the next step? I'm worried though that they won't be as fluid as Analogue sticks or Touch Screens (And just as fluid as Motion Controls! *Drum Zinger*)

- The Four main Buttons are placed so awkwardly on the Controller. It doesn't look life fun to reach for them.

- The Controller looks a little too big.

- I have no comment on the Touch Screen, other then being reminded that Nintendo has some sort of influence on the Industry (Come on, without the DS or the WiiU Tablet, would any other Controller ever have a touch pad? No.)

All in all, it's weird. But, it's not the worst controller that ever existed (That's the Jaguars). I'll need to feel it for myself before I say it's good or bad.

lacktheknack:
They wouldn't hard-lock it to Steam games.

A. That's not possible if it's designed to be hackable. Like... physically impossible.

B. Valve has a habit of not committing suicide.

A. I'm no expert on hardware hacking, but couldn't an embedded chip designed to block certain types of software fiddling be a possibility in the Steam Controller? I mean, security chips certainly aren't unheard of in other tech realms.

B. That's a bit of a specious outcome, isn't it? Let's take Steamworks for example: it's an increasingly popular bit of faux-DRM that Steam uses to tie hundreds of games to its service, but there hasn't been a huge backlash against that, has there? No, it will take something like locking down the entire architecture of the Steambox before consumers react strongly enough to cause a company-breaking profit loss for Valve.

Vigormortis:

KungFuJazzHands:

None of that tells me specifically whether or not the Steam Controller is going to work with games not associated with my Steam account. For all we know, Valve may decide to hard-lock the controller to prevent it from working with non-Steam games. Until Valve decide to release more info, all anyone can do at this point is speculate.

Seriously, I simply want more details from Valve, and people like you keep telling me to "read the information available". That's exactly what I do, and I'm still not getting answers to all the questions I have regarding Steam Universe and Valve's ultimate intentions with the project.

A fair point. However...

Given that Valve not only plans to provide the source code to SteamOS, but also the driver and hardware rootkits for the controller, it's almost inconceivable that they'd even attempt to 'lock it to Steam'.

Not because I think they wouldn't want to, but because giving the tools to hack and mod the thing to the community would make it almost impossible TO lock the thing to Steam.

Think of it this way: even if Valve somehow made it only functional with Steam games, if the community at large has access to the driver source-code then Valve can do nothing to stop the community from making the thing function with...anything, really.

Unless Valve decides to sue everyone that tries. But then, what would have been the point of providing the tools to mod the thing in the first place?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yes, that's all still speculative, but generally speaking if a company is giving out the source code and rootkits to one of their devices, they aren't planning to 'lock it down' to anything.

That said, I'm sure certain features may remain exclusive to Steam games. Like shared profile and mod/hack settings. But having access to the core driver software, the modding community could implement similar features in their own way.

That's certainly a reasonable way of looking at this. I have high hopes that Valve will stand by their word and allow the users to do as they see fit with SteamOS, the Steambox, and the Steam Controller. That said, it seems that the larger Valve get, the more "corporate" they become. They've implemented some pretty shady business practices over the last couple years, and I'm going to err on the side of pessimism until I see something that convinces me I can trust them again like I did half a decade ago.

I'm interested, but not convinced. I'm excited to see for myself what these trackpads actually feel like, but I'm pretty skeptical about the button placement at the moment. Still, working with every steam game and the freedom to customize controls is a good start. The touch screen is interesting as well. I can see it being quite useful in something like Dota 2

But how would it work with, say, fighting games? 2D Platformers?

KungFuJazzHands:

lacktheknack:
They wouldn't hard-lock it to Steam games.

A. That's not possible if it's designed to be hackable. Like... physically impossible.

B. Valve has a habit of not committing suicide.

A. I'm no expert on hardware hacking, but couldn't an embedded chip designed to block certain types of software fiddling be a possibility in the Steam Controller? I mean, security chips certainly aren't unheard of in other tech realms.

But then they give the users a guide titled "Here's How To Take Apart And Replace Every Part of Our Controller".

I appreciate that you're a bit suspicious, and have reason to be, but rest easy on this topic. If they attempted an embedded chip, it would be removed, replaced and have all the attached documentation uploaded with guides within an hour.

Plus, every Linux user would turn against them like [snap] that.

KungFuJazzHands:

That's certainly a reasonable way of looking at this. I have high hopes that Valve will stand by their word and allow the users to do as they see fit with SteamOS, the Steambox, and the Steam Controller. That said, it seems that the larger Valve get, the more "corporate" they become. They've implemented some pretty shady business practices over the last couple years, and I'm going to err on the side of pessimism until I see something that convinces me I can trust them again like I did half a decade ago.

I've always viewed Valve as less a corporation and more a think-tank.

They're a group of inventors, artists, engineers, writers, and code-junkies with big ideas. Sometimes they get it right and make something fantastic and/or innovative. Other times they fuck up and make a mess of things. (the current version if Greenlight anyone?)

The only shady business practice, that I've seen, was the changing of their TOS clauses. Namely, the one that asks the Steam user to waive their right to a class action suit.

Now, granted, I don't agree with the change in the clause. Not entirely. However, I understand why they did it. Specifically, because frivolous class-action suits have been becoming a very prevalent problem and there are no safe-guards within the legal system to prevent them; nor take action against those that file false claims.

Even so, the change bugged me. Though, not as much as it did when I saw similar clauses in many other TOS's. (like Origins, for example)

This is because, along with that change, Valve also added another change. That being that, in place of class action suits, the user and Valve agree to use 3rd party arbitration instead. And, so long as your claims are less than $10,000, Valve will pay the entirety of the plaintiffs legal fees. Whether you win or lose the case.

Not really a good excuse for the change in the TOS, but at least it shows they were keenly aware of the implications of the change and wanted to mitigate them somehow. Whether that actually be the case is up for debate. I'm not entirely convinced it did.

Vigormortis:

Phrozenflame500:
It's hard to see how a controller will feel until you hold it in your hands, I'll reserve judgement until then.

Le gasp! Can it be?

You may very well be the first, and possibly only, person I've seen post a rational, reasoned comment on this reveal so far.

It's been either "greatest thing ever" or "worst thing ever".

Because, you know, to hell with reserving judgement on anything until you actually get to try it.

I mean, it seems so many are up in arms about how "stupid it looks" and how it'll be a worthless piece of shit because it doesn't have "thumbsticks, buttons, or a d-pad". Or, saying it's just dumb because it has touchpads; citing how useless laptop touchpads are.

It's like the internet at large just looked at the picture, completely glossed over the description of the controller and it's features, and jumped to the conclusion that "lol it doesn't look like an Xbone/PS4 controller, therefore it sucks".

Fo sho bro. At first I saw the picture and was like "oooo uhhh..." but then I read the description and now I'm hype as shit for it. I mean, it could suck but if Valve's haptic feed back works it could be amazing. I want to try this more than the OS or the Steam Boxes. But I just knew though that there was going to be massive amounts of butt hurt from people with a keyboard and mouse obsession and dismissal from people who are too lazy to read a few paragraphs. And with that, I leave this comment thread cause I can already guess half the responses

Vigormortis:

DrOswald:

In that case we are adding in at least human reaction time into the input time. If we have to visually confirm what button we are going to press then that will slowdown the input, not to mention take your attention away from other things happening on the screen. And clutter up the screen. So, yeah, still inferior.

I'm sorry, but those have got to be some of the flimsiest complaints I've heard thus far.

How would it be any different using this touchpad with pop-up display than using a d-pad to scroll through action items? Please...tell me. Because I'm not seeing it. In fact, I'm of a mind that the touchscreen would allow for more options in that regard; making it superior in this sense.

Also: the pop-up being onscreen is meant to prevent you from having to take your attention away from the screen.

Before I start, I did read your later post and I think you make some fair points. I do like the touch screen and I actually think it is one of the most interesting parts of the controller. But I think it is still worth responding to your earlier comments. So here we go:

Anywhere that popup happens on the screen is a problem. If it happens in the center it clutters the screen and makes it harder to see the action. If it happens to the side you have to move your focus from the action some where else. It is a good idea and greatly helps with the problem but it does not completely negate it.

I don't see your logic here. Especially as, again with a d-pad, you'd have to glance at your inventory slots anyway.

No you don't. In many games each direction on the d-pad is dedicated to a single item for exactly this purpose. It is all depends on the game.

Besides, in many ways this touchscreen interface is very similar to how one would click an on-screen button with a mouse. You just point and click.

Actually, I would say it is significantly better in many ways. It will be easier and quicker to use and you will be able to use it in games that don't have a pointer.

Lastly, slowed reaction time? As opposed to having to move your thumb from the stick, press the d-pad in the right direction, and then moving it back?

Oh yes....the touch screen will be much slower than that.

Yes it will be. Because you need to remove your thumb, move it to a much harder to reach button in the center of the controller, wait for for the overlay to appear, process if you are on the correct button, press the button, and then move your thumb back. That will probably account for an additional 1/3-1/2 seconds for the input and a significant increase in cognitive burden. That is more than enough to be a problem in the middle of a high paced fire fight.

In the end, if it's such a worry, the thing can function simply as one big button. No "slowed reaction times". No "cluttered" onscreen alerts. Just press it and go.

Since when did having options become a bad thing? I don't get people today.

It is not a bad thing. I never said the touch screen was a bad thing. I only said it is a poor replacement for a d-pad in the case of fast button presses. Now, considering that there is a limited amount of space on a controller it may be a better choice. You don't need a d-pad to have a good controller. You can't have everything and it is better for Valve to try to make a unique product than just copy everyone else. I am skeptical but I am going to buy one just because it is interesting and probably the most important thing to happen in video game input since the Wii.

i like it, but im more of a mouse guy. Would have to feel the trackpads to see whats what.

Wow, based on the amount of hate this thing is getting, you'd think that valve was forcing you to use the thing. Seriously, no developer in their right mind would have a game require this controller, and I seriously doubt that valve would forbid the use of traditional gamepads on Steam OS.

Not that there aren't some valid concerns. Who can say how well the touchpads or haptic feedback will work? And when you modify the basic layout and design of a controller, there is a good chance that it just won't be successful. My biggest worry though has to be the price. With all the fancy stuff they are cramming into this device, I imagine that it will not be cheap.

However, I am still excited for it. It is trying to do something very new with how we traditionally think of controllers, and that alone makes me want to try the thing.

First, let me preface this with an apology. I had edited my previous post with this but feel compelled to repeat it.

My post was not intentionally hostile. If it seemed so I truly apologize. While this isn't really an excuse, I may have let some animosity seep into my post from outside sources. At this point I've been verbally insulted repeated by people who seem to think me showing intrigued interest in this controller is a cardinal sin of gaming. An act so detestable that I should be burned at the stake. So I was a bit touchy when I typed it.

DrOswald:

Anywhere that popup happens on the screen is a problem. If it happens in the center it clutters the screen and makes it harder to see the action. If it happens to the side you have to move your focus from the action some where else. It is a good idea and greatly helps with the problem but it does not completely negate it.

I really don't see them being careless enough to have it pop up in the middle of the screen.

If it happens to one side, then in many ways it's no different than, say, an inventory selection scrollmenu popping up when you press a d-pad. So any focus you'd lose with this touchscreen would be no different than a selection menu being a part of a normal, ingame HUD.

Even so, yes it would cause you to glance away from the center of the screen. However, an easy fix would be to simply not map key, fast-response actions to the touchscreen and instead mapping them to one of the other fifteen buttons.

No you don't. In many games each direction on the d-pad is dedicated to a single item for exactly this purpose. It is all depends on the game.

Very true. But this wouldn't really be an issue with the touchscreen either. You could disable the popup alerts and simply map the top of the screen to one item, the bottom to another, etc, etc.

While there'd technically be no sensory feedback as to which one you'd be pressing, simply muscle memory would indicate which you're reaching for. Virtually the same as the D-pad. (but granted, not quite)

Actually, I would say it is significantly better in many ways. It will be easier and quicker to use and you will be able to use it in games that don't have a pointer.

This was one of the possible features that has me intrigued. The ability to point-and-click in a controller based game has tremendous implications.

Yes it will be. Because you need to remove your thumb, move it to a much harder to reach button in the center of the controller, wait for for the overlay to appear, process if you are on the correct button, press the button, and then move your thumb back. That will probably account for an additional 1/3-1/2 seconds for the input and a significant increase in cognitive burden. That is more than enough to be a problem in the middle of a high paced fire fight.

Well, of course. But this is assuming the popup need appear when, as I said above, one could simply map four key actions to the sides of the screen. In which case it would be no slower or faster than a standard D-pad.

It is not a bad thing. I never said the touch screen was a bad thing. I only said it is a poor replacement for a d-pad in the case of fast button presses. Now, considering that there is a limited amount of space on a controller it may be a better choice. You don't need a d-pad to have a good controller. You can't have everything and it is better for Valve to try to make a unique product than just copy everyone else. I am skeptical but I am going to buy one just because it is interesting and probably the most important thing to happen in video game input since the Wii.

Honestly, given the standard use of the D-pad nowadays, it's really the only truly antiquated thing on todays controllers. It's basically just four more buttons.

Still, I'm dubious as to how effectively this thing can "replace" keyboard-and-mouse for fast, accurate, and precise PC controls. Even so, it's refreshing to see a company actually try something new with input tech that isn't just some slap-shod, cheap new idea or some ridiculous gimmick.

It's certainly more creative than putting rumble motors in the triggers...

It STILL fascinates me that Xbox players are so hyped over that.

Vigormortis:
...in place of class action suits, the user and Valve agree to use 3rd party arbitration instead. And, so long as your claims are less than $10,000, Valve will pay the entirety of the plaintiffs legal fees. Whether you win or lose the case.

I'm wandering off-topic with this, but here it goes: that 3rd party arbitration clause is a bit of a hollow gesture, because Valve get to chose the arbitrator. That gives them a pretty blatant advantage, and it's why they're so willing to pay the fees.

That kind of "comfort clause" is SOP for larger companies these days, but it doesn't really make the rest of it any easier to swallow as far as I'm concerned.

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