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Steam announces Steam Controller

On September 29, 2013 by Aaron Meehan

After announcing SteamOS and Steam Machines, Valve has made its final living room announcement, the Steam Controller. The steam controller definitely doesn’t look like your average controller. For example the controller uses dual trackpads instead of the analog sticks.

On the announcement page, Valve talks about many of the controllers features which include dual trackpads, haptics, the touch screen and buttons.

On the announcement page Valve explained why the decided to use dual trackpads by saying “The trackpads allow far higher fidelity input than has previously been possible with traditional handheld controllers. Steam gamers, who are used to the input associated with PCs, will appreciate that the Steam Controller’s resolution approaches that of a desktop mouse.” Basically the reason for using trackpads is to give a mouse driven experience on a controller which is handy because a mouse offers far more precision than an analog stick. To really add to this point Valve said “Whole genres of games that were previously only playable with a keyboard and mouse are now accessible from the sofa.” The statement went onto name RTS games, cursor-driven games as examples of games which up until this point have previously only playable through keyboard and mouse.

The haptics according to the announcement page is a way of giving players super-precise feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. According to Valve, “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.”

The touch screen on the controller will be used to provide additional information to the players. Developers can use the Valve’s API to make the touch screen a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary information like a map etc. The touch screen can also be used a button.

The button layout which you can see from the image of the controller at the top of this page is at first glance seems rather odd with a total of sixteen buttons on the controller, but Valve has stated “Half of them are accessible to the player without requiring thumbs to be lifted from the trackpads, including two on the back.”

With regards to the button layout, players can configure their own key configurations, and if you created a configuration which you think other people might like, you can share them over Steam. Below is an example of controller configuration for Portal 2.

Lastly, the Steam Controller will be completely open, with the controller designed from the ground up to be hackable.

The Steam Controller will be released alongside the Steam Machines in 2014.

Author: Aaron Meehan

Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.

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