Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Input Devices Games

Steam Controller Hands-on 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-and-different dept.
Ars Technica has posted their impressions from a hands-on session with Valve's new Steam Controller. The controller notably departs from standard practice of relying on two thumbsticks for precise movement, instead replacing them with concave touchpads. From the article: "When used as a kind of virtual trackball, as most games did with the right pad, it was a revelation. When used as a virtual d-pad, as it was on the left pad, it was an exercise in frustration. Let's focus on the right pad first. There's definitely a learning curve to using this side of the pad properly; years of muscle memory had me trying to use it like an analog stick (minus the stick) at first. It only really began to click when I started swiping my thumb over the pad, as I've seen in previous videos (there was no one on hand to really explain the controller to me, so I was left figuring it out on my own, just like a new Steam Machine owner). When I say it "started to click," I mean that literally. The subtle clicking in your hands as you swipe along the pad is an incredible tactile experience, as if there was an actual weighted ball inside the controller that's rolling in the direction you swipe. And like a trackball slowly losing its inertia, the clicking slows its pace after you lift your thumb off the pad, giving important contextual information for the momentum imparted by your swipe." More write-ups are available about the controller from Gamespot, Gizmodo, and Joystiq.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Steam Controller Hands-on

Comments Filter:
  • by gringer (252588) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:15PM (#45894071)

    Well, it's not like you're being steamrolled into accepting this as an input device. With an open platform, you should be free to use whatever input device you want.

    • A spatial controller could be cool, like the Gyration Air Mouse, but I would bet Gorilla arm fatigue would be a problem...
      • A spatial controller could be cool, like the Gyration Air Mouse, but I [w]ould bet Gor[i]lla arm fat[i]gue would be a problem...

        Consider how Nintendo solved the problem of arm fatigue. The Wii Remote can be used with one end balanced on your chair or in your lap. As long as the camera in the controller can see the IR emitters next to your TV, the Wii Remote can detect which way it is pointed.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Consider how Nintendo solved the problem of arm fatigue.

          But they didn't. It still happens.

    • "With an open platform, you should be free to use whatever input device you want."

      Um. You think because the SteamBox platform is Linux that the SteamStuffs running on the SteamBox is an "open platform"?

      Exactly what are you thinking here, captain?

      [Congrats, I guess, on an astoundingly dishonest and exploitive signature by the way.]
      • by thegarbz (1787294) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @10:04PM (#45894341)

        That and the fact that they announced that you're free to install SteamOS on any hardware.

        Sounds a damn sight more open than any other "console" out there.

        • by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @10:27PM (#45894483)
          Valve is a billion dollar company that specializes in DRM. Repeat: They specialize IN DRM.

          So when you say "Sounds a damn sight more open than any other 'console' out there."

          I say: I am glad you are optimistic and interpret it the way you want to hear it.

          But when a company that specializes in DRM --- and Steam is great, by the way, and I enjoy playing No More Room In Hell as one example --- but they still specialize in DRM and the idea of optimistically assuming the ultimately awesome best out-of-this-world groovy scenario might work for you.

          This extreme optimism doesn't work for me. Steam is a DRM-based platform, I cannot imagine any scenario where it resembles "open". Regardless of how it "sounds" (which is something called "marketing" in some corners of the world).
          • Coexistence (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @10:50PM (#45894581) Homepage Journal

            Steam is a DRM-based platform, I cannot imagine any scenario where it resembles "open".

            For one thing, the Steam DRM platform is designed to coexist with DRM-free games on the same machine. I could take a DRM-free game for Linux and install it on an Ubuntu PC that also has the Steam client installed or on a SteamOS PC. Console DRM, on the other hand, is specifically designed to reject anything DRM-free. For another, it's reportedly easier to get an indie game greenlit on Steam than it was on the seventh-generation consoles. Remember the issues that Robert Pelloni had with his RPG Bob's Game?

            • Re:Coexistence (Score:5, Informative)

              by ezelkow1 (693205) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:02PM (#45894631)

              To add to this, steam doesnt force its drm on any publisher/game creator that doesnt want it. There are plenty of games for purchase on steam that use absolutely no drm, once downloaded you can go to their install dir and run the game executable without steam running just fine. At that point its just another distribution service

              • Good point. I really hope that Valve/Steam puts more pressure on publishers to just ditch their DRM options. Steam certainly has the clout to do so.

                However, I don't see this being possible w/o Steam being a monopoly. (not a good thing either) Publishers REALLY want a piece of steams action, and if Steam leans on them too hard, they will just take their ball and make their own distribution systems. Till now, the fact that they suck at distribution systems (as they focus on DRM first, and content deliver

                • I really hope that Valve/Steam puts more pressure on publishers to just ditch their DRM options.

                  PCs that ship with SteamOS are probably pressure enough, as a lot of these third-party digital restrictions management libraries aren't ported to the Debian GNU/Linux operating system that underlies SteamOS. As far as I can tell, the only StarForce I can get on Linux is an early NES shoot-em-up by Tecmo [wikipedia.org], dumped from the Game Pak with the INL Retro copier [infiniteneslives.com].

                  However, I don't see this being possible w/o Steam being a monopoly.

                  Once the iBuyPower Steam Machine comes out, SteamOS will have a (temporary?) monopoly on mass-produced set-top gaming PCs.

            • You should be able to plug your Linux box into a TV using an HDMI port today.

              I don't really see where you are going with this. Few people are going to want a SteamBox because it is Linux, they will want it for the "Steam DRM Service" otherwise they would just use Linux.

              And I can plug my Windows box into my TV today using HDMI and run Steam or free games like your example.

              Maybe there is some non-obvious point you guys are making, but from my perspective you seem exciting about plugging a Linux box into a
              • You should be able to plug your Linux box into a TV using an HDMI port today.

                Provided you already have a Linux box with a gaming GPU and a TV-friendly slim chassis, and you already have another computer to use at your desk. A lot of families currently own one PC, and it's in a separate room from the big TV in the living room. True, a SteamOS PC is just a mass-produced set-top gaming PC, but the fact that it's marketed as a set-top gaming PC means it's more likely to come with an appropriate GPU and chassis than your average Office Depot special.

                Few people are going to want a SteamBox because it is Linux, they will want it for the "Steam DRM Service" otherwise they would just use Linux.

                Unless you want to run both commercial

                • I don't see the big deal about running HDMI cables unless they are very long. I have no hassles with ten metres and really can't see any prospect of any unless there are a lot of machine tools or other sources of a lot of intense electromagnetic noise around. Washing machine motors etc shouldn't put out enough to be a hassle even if you loop the cable around it.
                  • I don't see the big deal about running HDMI cables unless they are very long.

                    From one room to another, they would be very long, and not everybody has both permission and inclination to cut holes in the wall to run the cable. The advantage of a console or set-top PC is that you don't have to negotiate with your landlord for permission to break the walls, and you don't have to pay an electrician to pull the cable through the wall if local laws require it, and you don't have to also pull USB, which requires a repeater every 5 m, for the game controllers, and someone else can be using t

                    • by dbIII (701233)
                      Fair enough in a lot of cases but I just don't buy the argument about electrical interference.
                      I don't see anything wrong with ten metre or so HDMI cables so long as it is convenient to do so. You are correct that USB would be impractical beyond 10m since the cheap extenders don't chain and the expensive ones make you wonder why you aren't spending that money on the set top pc you are describing.

                      The main reason I don't have a PC near the TV is if it has to have the grunt to play new 3D games (or even h264
                    • Fair enough in a lot of cases but I just don't buy the argument about electrical interference.

                      Laws that require hiring a bonded electrician to install HDMI, USB, or Ethernet likely exist as a safety (or safety theater) measure arising from the 115 or 220 volt (depending on region) AC lines in the walls.

                      The main reason I don't have a PC near the TV is if it has to have the grunt to play new 3D games (or even h264 when it came out) then it has to be relatively expensive and have plenty of cooling.

                      Manufacturers of SteamOS PCs claim to have solved the cost and cooling problems. This preview of iBuyPower's Steam Machine [theverge.com] guesses a price on par with that of the Xbox One.

                    • Laws that require hiring a bonded electrician to install HDMI

                      Are you actually being serious or is that some hysterical "the other tribe is creating a nanny state" bullshit?

                    • The main reason I don't have a PC near the TV is if it has to have the grunt to play new 3D games (or even h264 when it came out) then it has to be relatively expensive and have plenty of cooling.

                      Manufacturers of SteamOS PCs claim to have solved the cost and cooling problems. This preview of iBuyPower's Steam Machine [theverge.com] guesses a price on par with that of the Xbox One.

                      Cooling doesn't have to be noisy. To be fair, my dual-core 3.2GHz Phenom II, GTX460 isn't the latest and greatest, but the TDP is up there and requires a decent amount of cooling. According to the sound meter on my phone (which is probably inaccurate), the noise level is 2-3dBA above ambient noise, sitting at my desk right next to the PC. Hard drive search noise is subjectively the most apparent, and it's still very mild due to vibration-damped mounting and could be solved completely by either using quiet l

                    • I lack the time to search through current city codes worldwide, but this answer to a question on Server Fault [serverfault.com] and this forum post [whrl.pl] and these comments to a Lifehacker article [lifehacker.com.au] claim that at least one Australian state requires that even licensed electricians need or needed a separate data cabling licence.
                    • by dbIII (701233)
                      I'm in Australia and can assure you that such a thing is utter bullshit.
                    • The people commenting on that article have got it mixed up with electrical cabling even though they pretend that they have not. My nephew has just started an apprenticeship as an electrician and he can run ethernet cable unsupervised. The voltage and current is far too low for the electrical safety standards to apply at all.
                      There is of course a training course for cabling but it's not a requirement. It's just a convenience for employers that don't want a fully fledged electrician but want someone with a
                    • by tepples (727027)
                      But it's still a lot more convenient for anyone but a hardcore geek to buy a console than to pull HDMI and USB cable through the wall. The commercial success of consoles shows that the majority of people are willing to spend the money and accept the limited game selection as payment for the convenience. Steam Machines add a mass-produced set-top gaming PC as a third option.
                    • by dbIII (701233)
                      True, but where convenient it works, say if the PC is just in the next room or in a house with very easy underfloor access. A dedicated PC or console may be overkill if you just want to watch movies in a format that the normal hardware associated with the TV can't handle.
                      For games I'm getting the impression that a dedicated console is nearly always superior to a MS Windows PC at this point.
              • Re:Coexistence (Score:4, Informative)

                by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @02:44AM (#45895621)

                And I can plug my Windows box into my TV today using HDMI

                I already do that but MS Windows sucks dog balls with multi-monitor setups, especially if one is in another room and especially with full screen games or full screen movie playing software.
                For example it sucks to be watching a movie or playing a game when a reboot notification presumably pops up on another screen you can't see, waits for input that never happens, then the fucking thing decides to reboot without the input kicking you out of the game or movie.
                Another is when one of the many things in the MS Windows ecosystem that has it's own update program decided to pop something up in your face to tell you something you do not care about while you are watching a movie or playing a game - bonus points for the ones that minimise your game so you can't get it back without alt-tabbing to it more times than the interface intends (sometimes you get an empty frame but no game graphics).

                Turning off updates, antivirus etc would make it less annoying but is utterly stupid with the current malware swamp infesting the platform - if it's on the net to authenticate the game it had better be patched up to avoid the latest exploits.

                It's almost as if it's deliberately annoying to drive people towards the Xbox, but I'd say it's just poor planning and a diminished care factor. Either way a console or a linux distro (which never forces reboots - if the user doesn't answer the thing doesn't take that as a yes like MS Windows) is far less annoying. Multi screen X, or even how Matrox did multi-screens on MS Windows since at least 2000, is vastly superior to the adhoc dogs breakfast of MS Win7 doing multiple screens, especially with multiple video cards. If they can't learn from methods from more than a decade ago they are just not trying.

                • by tepples (727027)

                  Another is when one of the many things in the MS Windows ecosystem that has it's own update program decided to pop something up in your face to tell you something you do not care about while you are watching a movie or playing a game

                  Then that program has a defect. Standard procedure is to download updates for a program only once the user has chosen to start the program, and then apply them once the user closes the program. For example, if you're watching a movie in VLC, it'd download updates in the background while the movie is playing, and it'd ask for elevation to apply them after you have closed VLC.

                  • by dbIII (701233)
                    There seems to be a lot with that defect that have an application that checks for updates when the main application is not running. You can stop those updaters from starting with some registry hacks or utility that does the hacks for you but it's a treadmill, since the updaters get added to the startup again when you update the real application.
                    It becomes a very annoying environment just at the point where MS were starting to get their shit together.
          • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            True DRM is actually a good thing. When DRM is done right, it's practically invisible, and the benefits and ease of use should make it seem like an enticing option over say, piracy.

            So what does Steam do that benefits me, the consumer?
            - Auto updating games with patches/DLC. No more manually downloading patches, I can pause and resume as I please, I no longer have to start the game to figure out that it's out of date.
            - It's free - no subscription/signup fees. Some advertising, but the adverts are all for prod

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            Valve is a billion dollar company that specializes in DRM. Repeat: They specialize IN DRM.

            Exactly. They specialize in it. I.e. they are one of the few companies who have gotten the mix right.
            Gifting games? Check. Sharing with family? Check. No always online shit? Check.

            So let me expand my earlier comment: Valve as a company specializing in DRM sounds a damn sight more open than any other company out there.

            • by jma05 (897351)

              > they are one of the few companies who have gotten the mix right.

              Hardly. I tried several PC online merchants and Steam is the worst. The late Direct2Drive, GamersGate and Amazon are all superior to Steam. I avoided Steam for a long time but tried it after picking up a few Humble Bundles. I am not happy at all with the service.

              I want my relation to the merchant to end after I made the purchase... or at least, after I install it. Steam is the only one that requires me to run a client to launch the game.

              St

              • by thegarbz (1787294)

                Maybe you should branch out a bit before you use the word "only" so often.

                It's actually quite common for games to log play time. Heck this extends back to the Quake / Starcraft days.

                I know of plenty of clients that need to be launched before running the game. e.g. Origin, uplay, Games for windows live (though this one helpfully launches the client when you start the game, I've never actually done it the other way round).

                I've never seen Steam "ignore" any setting. Actually most of my game library currently h

                • by jma05 (897351)

                  > Maybe you should branch out a bit before you use the word "only" so often.

                  It’s the word of distinction that I am making with other delivery systems *I* used. I used it with all deliberation.

                  > It's actually quite common for games to log play time. Heck this extends back to the Quake / Starcraft days.

                  I do not know if that is true. None of the many non-Steam games I currently have, give any hint of this being true.

                  Even if that is the case, it is more of an intrusion if the delivery system logs/tr

          • You're being simplistic. Steam is working to decrease the DRM you have to put up with. Without any DRM, companies would skip the PC entirely. Consoles have very, very heavy DRM obviously. If you're satisfied with GOG, that might not bother you, but in order for PC gaming not to be very close to dead, some concessions need to be made, and steam is doing a great job promoting light DRM as an alternative to the consoles.
  • Tried this today (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A solid 20 mins at the press event. I'm a big Valve fanboy, but this just didn't work for me. It didn't feel like a good gamepad replacement, nor a good keyboard/mouse replacement. Tries to replace both, masters neither.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:37PM (#45894803)

    If Steam were just a service where I could just buy games, I'd be all over it. Unfortunately, what Steam mostly is is DRM. It's obstructionware that insists on being present. I don't like having to wait for it to load, having to wait for it to retry and fail to find a network connection, and having to check "Offline" every single time I run something. I don't like it blowing my mods away, forcing me to do updates, and randomly unsorting and resetting my list of Skyrim mods if I don't save my edits fast enough. Steam DRM kills the Steambox for me, which is very sad because the Steambox is a Windows 8-killing PC in spite of Valve's efforts to try to steer perception away from that.

    • by Yosho (135835)

      having to wait for it to retry and fail to find a network connection, and having to check "Offline" every single time I run something

      Why don't you either:

      1) Get a stable network connection? or
      2) Just leave it running in the background after you've started it in offline mode so you don't have to go through the oh-so-arduous process of double-clicking on the icon and starting it again?

      And I've never had an issue with it blowing away any of my Skyrim mods, so maybe you're doing something wrong? Try using the Nexus Mod Manager to take care of that.

    • Skyrim is a poor choice of examples there. What's the mod scene for Skyrim on the consoles? Steam's DRM is only annoying if you consider it in a vaccum, but that's a stupid way to look at it. Skyrim hasn't been released without DRM, correct? Without Steam, it would have been on Origin, which is also DRM. Without either, it would have been not released on the PC at all, and you wouldn't have any mods, from what I can tell.
  • ...AMD GPUs, apparently. I haven't tried it yet, but I've been waiting to get it set up on a gaming rig I built for our living room.

  • attaching some additional pieces of hardware like some rubber, plastic pad, spring ,small stick to make it behave like real joystick? I remember that there were some hobby projects to make something attached to MSX numpad to make it work like joystick long long ago.

"Probably the best operating system in the world is the [operating system] made for the PDP-11 by Bell Laboratories." - Ted Nelson, October 1977

Working...