Team Meat Designer Says Steam Controller is a "Good Start"

Steven Bogos

The Taco Man
Jan 17, 2013
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Team Meat Designer Says Steam Controller is a "Good Start"


"If you were to ask me to choose between Steam Controller and a 360 controller, I would choose 360."

Team Meat's Tommy Refenes is one of the privileged few who has had a chance to demo Valve's fancy-new Steam controller. Anyone who has ever played Team Meat's signature game: Super Meat Boy know that precision is everything in the game, and Refenes himself is someone who is very particular about his controllers. His overall assessment of Valve's controller is that it is a "good start," but ultimately, not enough to trounce Microsoft's Xbox 360 controller.

"If you were to ask me if I would play games with the Steam Controller...I would say yes. If you were to ask me to choose between Steam Controller and a 360 controller, I would choose 360. Don't take that as slight to the controller though because it's more about the comfort of familiarity over functionality."

Refenes talks about his controller pickyness on his official blog [http://tommyrefenes.tumblr.com/post/62476523677/my-time-with-the-steam-controller]. "I hated playing the PS3 when it first came out because the SixAxis had no DualShock in them and were too light. I didn't fully play any PS3 games until I bought a DualShock3 SixAxis controller. I didn't even bother with the Ouya controller because if other people are reporting latency problems, I know for a fact I will experience them."

As for the Steam controller, Refenes said that he did enjoy it, but "The big problem with touch pads/ touch screens is you never know when you are actually over a button or pressing it. 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."

He suggests adding small nubs to the controller, similar to the nubs on the F and J keys of every standard keyboard, to help remedy this problem.

"TL;DR; Great Start, needs some improvements, but I could play any game I wanted with it just fine."

Source: VG24/7 [http://www.vg247.com/2013/09/29/team-meats-tommy-refenes-demos-the-steam-controller-thinks-its-a-great-start/]

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chozo_hybrid

What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets.
Jul 15, 2009
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Thing is, this is an option, by the sounds of it, no one has to use it unless they want to do without a mouse and keyboard setup, or a regular controller setup. I like options, and I will give this controller a shot anyway. But at least they're attempting something new with this hardware, as silly as the thing looks.
 

lacktheknack

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Jan 19, 2009
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He said a few other things, like "If all controllers except this one disappeared tomorrow, that wouldn't be a bad thing".

He also said he'd stick with the Xbox 360 controller more out of familiarity than anything else.

On the whole, it seems like a great start for a company that has no experience in hardware.
 

johnson2495

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Sep 29, 2013
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From Tommy's blog: "If you were to ask me if I would play games with the Steam Controller...I would say yes. If you were to ask me to choose between Steam Controller and a 360 controller, I would choose 360. Don't take that as slight to the controller though because it's more about the comfort of familiarity over functionality. I would choose a 360 controller because I have several thousand hours experience using it, however 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. In fact, I don't think gaming would miss a beat. I'm excited to see what final hardware feels like because I think with the upcoming iterations of the controller we'll see something that is different, but still feels good."
 

Worgen

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Whatever, just wash your hands.
Ehh, he also said Super Meat Boy was better with a control pad and I kicked its ass on the keyboard.
 

Shadow-Phoenix

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lacktheknack said:
He said a few other things, like "If all controllers except this one disappeared tomorrow, that wouldn't be a bad thing".

He also said he'd stick with the Xbox 360 controller more out of familiarity than anything else.

On the whole, it seems like a great start for a company that has no experience in hardware.
Indeed it's not a bad start and everything so far going smoothly, but I can't help but feel that quote if it were true, Steam's gamepad being the only gamepad left in the world would then imply Darwinism (survival of the fittest in this case) where some gamepad users would not be able to adapt to the last remaining gamepad (just like how some K+M only users cannot seem to adapt to a gamepad as a few have mentioned on this site before) and thus end up having to adapt to K+M if they had not done so before and if they couldn't even manage that then they'd end up left out of the gaming scene due to lack of more gamepads (which the world should always need, never have just the one of anything).

But I know that will never really happen of course but his quote itched my brain for a few seconds on me pondering a world with only K+M and the Steam gamepad.

Come to think of it I really feel like starting a gaming evolution and darwinism thread about gaming in general because I'm feeling an odd shift that will come about in the future thanks to Gabe and I'm not exactly 100% all for it.
 

Psychobabble

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Aug 3, 2013
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I would choose a 360 controller because I have several thousand hours experience using it, however 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. In fact, I don't think gaming would miss a beat.

What a ludicrous and waffling statement.

"Oh it's okay, I wouldn't make it my first choice for gaming. But if tomorrow I suddenly had no other choice this thing would be perfect."

That makes about as much sense as saying "I love having the use of both of my hands, so if you offered me a hook instead I'd still rather keep both of my hands. However if you cut off my hands tomorrow I'd totally think that having only the choice of a hook would be a positive thing."

Christ on a pogo stick. So he doesn't feel the thing is "better" enough to take him away from existing technology, but at the same time he still feels it would be a completely adequate replacement for said existing technology, if said technology magically disappeared. WTF!? That's really like saying you'd only date a person if they were the last person on Earth. Which is NOT a bloody compliment.

Can we please see a review from someone who doesn't live on planet Kiss Ass?
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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Aug 5, 2009
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I think his idea for keyboard-like nubs is a good one. Its always good to have more physical interaction with the controls than less.
 

windlenot

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Mar 27, 2011
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It's hard to make judgement on a controller that I haven't used, but really, the controller looks more awkward than anything. But hey, if it works, by all means, I'd use it. But those face buttons really bother me...
 

Smooth Operator

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Oct 5, 2010
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So the only thing we learn here is that the "haptic feedback" is more show less tell, well a couple thousand more reviews like this and we might actually get about half the info we need on the controller.

Or if Valve decides to give them away for free... we wouldn't really object.
 

Psychobabble

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Aug 3, 2013
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Desert Punk said:
Psychobabble said:
I would choose a 360 controller because I have several thousand hours experience using it, however 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. In fact, I don't think gaming would miss a beat.

What a ludicrous and waffling statement.

"Oh it's okay, I wouldn't make it my first choice for gaming. But if tomorrow I suddenly had no other choice this thing would be perfect."

That makes about as much sense as saying "I love having the use of both of my hands, so if you offered me a hook instead I'd still rather keep both of my hands. However if you cut off my hands tomorrow I'd totally think that having only the choice of a hook would be a positive thing."

Christ on a pogo stick. So he doesn't feel the thing is "better" enough to take him away from existing technology, but at the same time he still feels it would be a completely adequate replacement for said existing technology, if said technology magically disappeared. WTF!? That's really like saying you'd only date a person if they were the last person on Earth. Which is NOT a bloody compliment.

Can we please see a review from someone who doesn't live on planet Kiss Ass?
Wow you couldn't have missed the point more if you had tried.

He says its good, and that he likes it, but the fact that he has thousands more hours with the 360 controller means that the 360 controller is going to be his natural choice.

This should say something because he wouldn't pick up another controller as it was too light and didn't rumble in his hands.
No you missed the point as he went on to say it wouldn't matter or be a bad thing for the industry if every controller save the Steam controller disappeared tomorrow, even though he still prefers the 360 controller over the Steam one. Which sounds like so much rhetorical bullshit to me, seemingly said only to avoid giving offense to the "Gods" at Valve.

Saying he prefers to stick with what's familiar but then turning around and saying the industry would benefit from being dominated by this technology is not only contradiction but patently absurd.
 

MrBaskerville

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Is there any particular reason why they opted for touch controls when they could have used two analouge sticks? It seems like a very odd design choice. To save money or does it offer something an analouge stick doesn't?
 

xyrafhoan

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Jan 11, 2010
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Tenmar said:
Oh yes cause I LOVE the 360 controller....

Honestly are we just going to ignore the terrible parts of the 360 controller and how a good deal of the design is flawed? Do I have to mention the D-Pad? Thing was just slapped on there and you can't get is just sub-optimal at best. Hell even NINTENDO still does the basic D-Pad justice after all these years.

Honestly the STEAM controller looks to have a lot of potential problems but then again I'm still trying to figure out what exactly the controller is trying to fill or solve for a category of games.
IIRC Nintendo has a patent on the single-piece cross shaped d-pad, which is why Sony's is split into sections and the XBox's d-pad is a flaming piece of trash. However, that patent is about to expire so Nintendo will no longer monopolize that particular shape of d-pad.

Anyway, through all the comments I'm surprised at how few people have experienced modern haptic feedback. A lot of modern cellphones at least incorporate a low level form of haptic feedback to make typing more comfortable. It's not just vibration, and it's not quite force feedback of a button. I wish I had my hands on this controller to try it out. However, it looks bulky for my smallish hands and the XBox 360 controllers are already on the upper end of acceptable bulkiness. Plus those extra 4 buttons on the back that aren't shoulder buttons seem like they'll cause hand cramps, or at the very least be awkward to press. I am cautiously optimistic, though I have no interest in the Steam Box itself.
 

Aidan Greener

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Apr 2, 2010
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Redlin5 said:
I think his idea for keyboard-like nubs is a good one. Its always good to have more physical interaction with the controls than less.
I agree with that point as it would help to locate the default position where your thumbs are meant to rest on the controllers trackpads.
 

Calcium

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Dec 30, 2010
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Feedback would be the main reason I'd avoid something like this at the moment - would have to hear a lot of noise to the contrary to give it a shot (when it releases of course). Used to use a netbook regularly and the touch pad on that was awful compared to a mouse. I presume the track pads of the steam controller will - unlike my crappy netbook - account for the force applied, it's still not an exciting proposition to me.

The dual analog sticks served me well for every title on the 360, and whilst not suited for titles such as Red Alert 3 and Halo Wars, control groups and snap selection at least made an effort to combat it. Will the steam controller be precise enough to compete with a mouse there? Well, even if it is, people like familiarity, which brings me to think that the best way to get people to try the controller is to bundle it with Steamboxes.
 

Dr_Fred

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Sep 2, 2010
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Psychobabble said:
I would choose a 360 controller because I have several thousand hours experience using it, however 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. In fact, I don't think gaming would miss a beat.

What a ludicrous and waffling statement.

"Oh it's okay, I wouldn't make it my first choice for gaming. But if tomorrow I suddenly had no other choice this thing would be perfect."
Hum, that's not at all the way I understand what he's saying. The way I parse his sentence, I don't think he meant: "if everything else was wiped out, it would be nice to have the steam controller", but rather "it would be nice if everything else was wiped out and we had the Steam controller".

But at any rate, I'd take comments from the authors of SMB with a huge grain of salt. They're the guys I know mainly for buying one of their games on Steam for hardly more than a buck (that supposedly worked with K+M), and who have ever since been displaying me unskippable splash screens, every time I start their game, questioning my personal hygiene because I don't want to buy and use a controller that would cost ten times the price of their games. I wish I made that up. [http://i.imgur.com/b8Kjm.png] Supposedly because it plays better than a keyboard, of which I doubt (and so do some other of my friends who have played the game a LOT more than I, with both keyboard and controller).

PS/EDIT : Wow, I just reat the whole stuff [http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/TommyRefenes/20130928/201219/My_time_with_the_Steam_Controller.php]. Should have started with this. That's... informative. Also : I though Valve had exceptional hackers before, turns out I underestimated them. Just read the whole interview and make your own opinion, though.
 

rofltehcat

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Jul 24, 2009
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MrBaskerville said:
Is there any particular reason why they opted for touch controls when they could have used two analouge sticks? It seems like a very odd design choice. To save money or does it offer something an analouge stick doesn't?
I think it is probably more expensive that way, so they didn't do it for cost reasons. I think the main reason was that sticks severely lack precision, which means that current console games need to do a lot of aim assist, acceleration boosts, etc. so you can actually hit something. Strategy games aren't great for controllers either and the ones who tried, e.g. RUSE, tended to drastically reduce micro and gameplay complexity. Keyboards on the other hand often lack in movement control (e.g. slow/fast walking of your character, fast/slow turning of race cars...).

From what I read it has nearly the precision of a mouse, so let's see how it works out. When done right it could combine the best things about controllers and mice into one.