Valve Reveals the Steam Controller

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Valve Reveals the Steam Controller


The third and final big announcement out of Valve is the Steam Controller, a gamepad that forgoes thumbsticks for two high-resolution trackpads.

This is what it's all built up to: The Steam Controller [http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/SteamController/], a device Valve calls "a different kind of gamepad" that will work with every game on Steam, even those that don't offer controller support, by emulating mouse and keyboard operation. While the basic shape is that of a conventional controller, it's unquestionably unusual: in place of the sticks you'd normally bop around with your thumbs, the Steam Controller offers a pair of high-resolution trackpads that Valve says will make everything accessible from the couch.

"The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators," the controller page states. "These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement."

And what exactly does all that mean? Apparently this: "This haptic capability provides a vital channel of information to the player - delivering in-game information about speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations, or any other events about which game designers want players to be aware. It is a higher-bandwidth haptic information channel than exists in any other consumer product that we know of. As a parlour trick they can even play audio waveforms and function as speakers."

There's also a touch screen located between the trackpads, which will automatically overlay its display on the big screen so you won't have to look down from the game, and course buttons - 16 in all. Support for older games will come by way of the "legacy mode" configuration tool, with which the Steam community can create and share button bindings for any games they like.

And that wraps up Valve's announcement extravaganza week! An operating system, some boxes and a controller - was it everything you'd hoped? Full details about the Steam Controller, and everything else Valve talked about this week, can be found at steampowered.com/livingroom [http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/].



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lacktheknack

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I eagerly anticipate someone showing off their beta controller, only to have it begin screaming lines from The Exorcist.

It would be so worth it.
 

Agayek

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Oct 23, 2008
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lacktheknack said:
I eagerly anticipate someone showing off their beta controller, only to have it begin screaming lines from The Exorcist.

It would be so worth it.
Now I'm going to be disappointed when I get mine and it doesn't do that the first time I pick it up.

Thanks a lot, jerk. :p
 

Chessrook44

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Yeah, I honestly see no way this thing is going to effectively emulate a mouse and keyboard setup without being awkward or clunky, even if it does have 16 buttons.
 

Sigmund Av Volsung

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Dec 11, 2009
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That has got to be the ugliest controller I have ever seen.

Other than that, if it works, great, and if it comes out cheaper than the xbone controller for windows, then I might check it out.
 

lacktheknack

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Agayek said:
lacktheknack said:
I eagerly anticipate someone showing off their beta controller, only to have it begin screaming lines from The Exorcist.

It would be so worth it.
Now I'm going to be disappointed when I get mine and it doesn't do that the first time I pick it up.

Thanks a lot, jerk. :p
It'll be pretty effortless to make it happen, I bet.

"Guys, check out the beta Steam Controller!"

"YOUR MOTHER SUCKS COCKS IN HELL!"

"It needs a bit of work, I think."
 

Snotnarok

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There's no dpad and there's no physical feedback, granted my example below is old but it's the same issue tablets/phones have with games today. No physical sensation of buttons clicking/pressing or stick angles and you're making it very challenging to play.

EDIT NUMBER 2: I say no physical feedback because the haptic feature HAS TO BE PROGRAMMED for it to be implemented. Valve states all games will work with the controller, meaning the controller by default will attempt to emulate a 360/PS3 controller when there is no haptic functionality programmed into the game. So AN INTERESTING IDEA, however in the end it BOILS DOWN TO when people, not devs or people who'd not be inclined to critque the controller are using it to play games at their house then we will have a better idea.

Yes second edit because I'm still getting quoted as there's no feed back, and that's an assumption when there's no haptic programming, it will likely default to a fall back so the controller is still usable, but that is emulating feeling vs using a stick or button...or the lack of a freaking dpad.



We'll have to wait to see how it feels I guess to know for sure but it's REALLY hard to imagine it being anything better than playing a game on a touch screen

I'm going to edit my post here since I'm sure I'm going to be spammed by everyone telling me about the haptic feedback.

Okay great a function 90% of us haven't touched before we can only hope it's awesome, but then there's complications here:
-The thousands of games already on steam will likely not update to meet this functionality.
-Devs barely let you edit your controls and you're telling me they're going to go out of their way to allow for this? Maybe for a while but in the end more will have 360/ps3/logitech controllers and that will likely still be the default.

It's an interesting idea but it's flawed in that there's already a large standard and most devs don't want to cater to 1 guy on a new system. How many games support that logtitech LCD display on keyboards? How many games support 3D?
I'm interested to try but I'm also very skeptical I'm not against it I just think this controller has a large wall to get over and I've always been one to hope for the best, but expect the worst. I hope it does well, but in the end I think it's going to fade away.
 

SonOfVoorhees

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Ugliest thing ever. There is no way gamers would use this over a mouse and keyboard. But will be waiting to see vids showing how it controls games. Maybe its the lack of beauty and genius of design that makes it work well. lol
 

lacktheknack

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Snotnarok said:
There's no dpad and there's no physical feedback, granted my example below is old but it's the same issue tablets/phones have with games today. No physical sensation of buttons clicking/pressing or stick angles and you're making it very challenging to play.
Nope. "Haptic feedback", right there in the article.

The touchpads push back.

Also, buttons are all over the controller.
 

Phrozenflame500

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

Cowabungaa

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Snotnarok said:
There's no dpad and there's no physical feedback
Actually, there is, just not in the form of actual buttons. That's what they mean with haptic feedback. And that's some advanced technology right there. Or at least in a consumer product like a gamepad.

I'm interesting to see how this plays. I've done some theoretical work with haptic feedback and it's a very very interesting field of technology, something I really want to see in practice. It seems such an odd controller as well in terms of ergonomy. Yes, very interesting.
 

NWJ94

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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.

Legacy mode sounds like a great move. The risk with non-standard controllers (A la Nintendo) is having trouble convincing developers to design for it. If it can just be built for like a mouse and keyboard ports shouldn't be a sticking point for third party.
 

Snotnarok

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lacktheknack said:
Snotnarok said:
There's no dpad and there's no physical feedback, granted my example below is old but it's the same issue tablets/phones have with games today. No physical sensation of buttons clicking/pressing or stick angles and you're making it very challenging to play.
Nope. "Haptic feedback", right there in the article.

The touchpads push back.

Also, buttons are all over the controller.

Okay great a function 90% of us haven't touched before we can only hope it's awesome, but then there's complications here:
-The thousands of games already on steam will likely not update to meet this functionality.
-Devs barely let you edit your controls and you're telling me they're going to go out of their way to allow for this? Maybe for a while but in the end more will have 360/ps3/logitech controllers and that will likely still be the default.

It's an interesting idea but it's flawed in that there's already a large standard and most devs don't want to cater to 1 guy on a new system. How many games support that logtitech LCD display on keyboards? How many games support 3D?
I'm interested to try but I'm also very skeptical.
 

Crazie_Guy

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Mar 8, 2009
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Looks like this'll be one of those things you have to try to understand. I hope the feedback works as well as they think it does in replacing physical feedback from a stick.
 

lacktheknack

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Snotnarok said:
lacktheknack said:
Snotnarok said:
There's no dpad and there's no physical feedback, granted my example below is old but it's the same issue tablets/phones have with games today. No physical sensation of buttons clicking/pressing or stick angles and you're making it very challenging to play.
Nope. "Haptic feedback", right there in the article.

The touchpads push back.

Also, buttons are all over the controller.

Okay great a function 90% of us haven't touched before we can only hope it's awesome, but then there's complications here:
-The thousands of games already on steam will likely not update to meet this functionality.

http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/SteamController/

Read that. Right at the top, it states "All Steam games, past present and future, will support this".


-Devs barely let you edit your controls and you're telling me they're going to go out of their way to allow for this? Maybe for a while but in the end more will have 360/ps3/logitech controllers and that will likely still be the default.

Again, read the above.

It's an interesting idea but it's flawed in that there's already a large standard and most devs don't want to cater to 1 guy on a new system. How many games support that logtitech LCD display on keyboards? How many games support 3D?
I'm interested to try but I'm also very skeptical.
Fair enough.

Just read the source articles before you attempt criticism in the future, k?
 

Stevepinto3

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I can't tell if this is insane or insanely brilliant. It's out there for sure, and I'll give it more credit than the Kinect or Wii-mote because it's primary goal seems to be functionality instead of "aren't motion controls sooooo cool?"

It just seems that controller design had hit a sweet spot with the current Playstation/Xbox setups, so departing from that is a big gamble, but then this whole week of Steam OS/Machines was already a big gamble, wasn't it?
 

Beryl77

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I'm still skeptical about how good it is compared to mouse and keyboard but I guess it's one of those "you have to try it out yourself" things, I'll definitely keep an open mind about this. Can't wait for more information on the Steam Machines next week though.
 

ClockworkUniverse

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Nov 15, 2012
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This is glorious. The touchpads are basically analog sticks and mice in one. Haptic feedback is really impressive. And the ability to use it with ANY Steam game is nothing short of astounding.

I really hope I get into that beta. It's looking like my odds might be as good as 1/1000, so.
 

Andy Shandy

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Jun 7, 2010
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Honestly though, I'm not entirely sure what to think of it at the moment. Looks weird as hell, although I did think the same when I saw the Gamecube controller all those years ago, and that was a fantastic controller.

I'll have to hold it first, before passing any sort of concrete judgement on it, I think.