Valve announces a new controller, made for SteamOS and Big Picture
Valve is offering you “a new way to play your entire Steam library from the sofa.” The third announcement this week from Valve is “a different kind of gamepad,” that is in-line with the content offerings that were announced earlier this week.
As Valve stated on the official site, “We knew how to build the user interface, we knew how to build a machine, and even an operating system. But that still left input — our biggest missing link. We realized early on that our goals required a new kind of input technology — one that could bridge the gap from the desk to the living room without compromises. So we spent a year experimenting with new approaches to input and we now believe we’ve arrived at something worth sharing and testing with you.”
The new controller was designed by Valve to work with all games on Steam, “past, present, and future.” Valve states that the controller will work, “Even the older titles in the catalog and the ones which were not built with controller support.” Valve, “fooled those older games into thinking they’re being played with a keyboard and mouse, but we’ve designed a gamepad that’s nothing like either one of those devices.”
The controller offers dual trackpads, complete with a “high-resolution trackpad as its base. It is also clickable, allowing the entire surface to act as a button. The trackpads allow far higher fidelity input than has previously been possible with traditional handheld controllers.” In the center is another touch-enabled surface, “this one backed by a high-resolution screen. This surface, too, is critical to achieving the controller’s primary goal – supporting all games in the Steam catalog. The screen allows an infinite number of discrete actions to be made available to the player, without requiring an infinite number of physical buttons.”
The whole screen itself is also clickable, like a large single button. So actions are not invoked by a simple touch, they instead require a click. This allows a player to touch the screen, browse available actions, and only then commit to the one they want. Players can swipe through pages of actions in games where that’s appropriate. When programmed by game developers using our API, the touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info like a map or use other custom input modes we haven’t thought of yet.
“In order to avoid forcing players to divide their attention between screens, a critical feature of the Steam Controller comes from its deep integration with Steam. When a player touches the controller screen, its display is overlayed on top of the game they’re playing, allowing the player to leave their attention squarely on the action, where it belongs.”
If you like modding then you are in luck. “The Steam Controller was designed from the ground up to be hackable,” promises Valve. “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.”
more info: steam