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Input Devices Games Hardware

Steam Controller Drops Touchscreen 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the walking-back-innovation dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last year Valve announced a new game controller that was trying to innovate on the designs that have been with us for over a decade now. The biggest changes were replacing analog sticks with circular touchpads and plopping a small touchscreen into the middle of the controller. Valve has now revamped their prototype hardware, and the touchscreen is nowhere to be seen. In its place are stop/play buttons (which appear similar to start/select buttons) and a bigger Steam logo button. They've also moved around the directional and ABXY buttons, reverting to a more traditional layout (picture). They'll be demonstrating the latest prototype next week at GDC."
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Steam Controller Drops Touchscreen

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  • by kurkosdr (2378710)
    Costs, of course. Making a competively priced gaming PC (steam machine) compared to consoles is hard but doable, throw in a controller with an expensive touchscreen and it becomes impossible. Valve apparently had second thoughts over impossing that extra cost on OEMs.
    • by tepples (727027)

      Making a competively priced gaming PC (steam machine) compared to consoles is hard but doable

      Especially given that the Nintendo 64 was a stripped down SGI Indy, and the original Xbox, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One are made with PC parts.

      throw in a controller with an expensive touchscreen and it becomes impossible.

      What does this say about the Wii U GamePad?

      • Re: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dutch Gun (899105) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:36PM (#46494863)

        What does this say about the Wii U GamePad?

        I'd posit that the Wii U sacrificed a significant amount of hardware in their console for the sake of that fancy gamepad. Even with this new console generation's modest hardware barely being able to render at HD resolutions, the Wii U is still a generation behind. That's not necessarily a criticism, mind you... it's a choice that you have to make about the realities of pricing and hardware specs. Nintendo obviously isn't trying to compete in the high-specs console market, and that's fine. They choose to innovate in other ways.

        Valve has to make the same choices regarding price and hardware tradeoffs. Keep in mind that it might not only be about price - it could be that the touchscreen wasn't living up to their expectations in terms of performance. As such, why not go with a tried and true (and cheaper) alternative. After all, the big three have kept their analog sticks and D-pads all this time. There's surely a reason for this other than history or momentum.

        • Not the lower res/graphical fanciness, but the controller. It isn't that much fun to use as a controller because, well, it is fucking huge. It is a tablet. Thing is, if people wanted to play games on a tablet they'd probably do so and on one that could travel around with them.

          Also it is pretty expensive. The screen, wireless interface, processor, all that jazz costs quite a bit and pushed up the cost of the Wii U. Part of what made the Wii successful was that it was really cheap compared to the "big 2" cons

          • if people wanted to play games on a tablet they'd probably do so and on one that could travel around with them.

            Touch-screen tablets are good for positional input. But some game genres are more suited toward directional input than positional input, especially things like platformers and fighting games. Trying to do directional input with a touch screen is painful, as shown in the demo of Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure. The advantage of Wii U GamePad over a tablet is that it has both traditional gaming controls (a directional control and discrete trigger buttons) and a touch screen. Only a few uncommon mobile device

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            This. Every game I play I reach for the Pro controller instead. I don't use the Wii U controller unless I absolutely have to with one exception, when the TV is busy.

            It is quite neat having the ability to keep playing on the controller if the TV suddenly becomes occupied and in those few cases turning the console into a portable was actually quite neat.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I'd posit that the Wii U sacrificed a significant amount of hardware in their console for the sake of that fancy gamepad.

          They did. I'd still have bought one but it doesn't support 4 controllers with displays. That was a massive failure.

          • I'd still have bought one but it doesn't support 4 controllers with displays. That was a massive failure.

            How many controllers does a typical PC game support, with or without displays? It's been claimed that PC game developers leave out support for split-screen play and spawn installation on purpose, in order to sell multiple copies of a game to one household [cracked.com].

            • Yeah but Steam sales mean we PC gamers really don't have to care and with AMD chips going so cheap you can build nice gaming PCs for a little of nothing. My oldest has a hexacore with 8Gb of RAM and a TB HDD and it only cost $350 shipped, add in another $70 for his HD7750 and he can play pretty much any shooter he cares to play. the youngest decided to go for a quad and spend the extra for an HD7790 and everything is smooth even with the bling cranked.

              So who cares if you have to get more than 1 copy? Thanks to steam we only have to download it once and then just copy the folder to the other 2 PCs and between Steam sales, Humble Bundles, and FTP games we literally have more new games to play than we have hours in the day and as a nice bonus you have a system that will play console games going back to the Atari 2600, PC games going back to DOS, and of course web, video, hell you can even get your work done on it ;-)

              Oh and if you don't want to even spend that much? head over to Craigslist, plenty of Phenom Is and IIs and C2Qs being sold for cheap. Had a friend that wanted to get into PC gaming but money was tight, found him a nice C2Q system with 19 LCD and KM for just $130, he slapped in an HD6770 he found for $35 and is happily flying his WWII airplanes.

              • by tepples (727027)

                Yeah but Steam sales mean we PC gamers really don't have to care

                I thought the expectation that PC gamers would wait for a Steam sale was devaluing PC gaming. This allegedly causes publishers to believe they can't get much more revenue from a Steam bargain hunter than a copyright infringer, which encourages established developers to concentrate on consoles and treat PC as an afterthought. Apparently PC gamers are more likely to wait for Steam sales than PlayStation gamers for Greatest Hits. (References: 1 [slashdot.org] 2 [slashdot.org])

                I also thought one had to have multiple Steam accounts in ord

              • Now I separately address the cost of hardware:

                My oldest has a hexacore with 8Gb of RAM and a TB HDD and it only cost $350 shipped

                Or $1,400 plus monitors plus OS plus furniture for four players.

                you have a system that will play console games going back to the Atari 2600

                Good luck dumping your authentic game cartridges to create the ROM files you need to play your console games. Last time I checked, Retrode was discontinued indefinitely [retrode.com].

                and of course web, video, hell you can even get your work done on it

                As for work or other non-gaming uses of a PC, console gaming families are apparently happy with just taking turns on the family PC, possibly adding a tablet or low-end laptop to the mix.

                Had a friend that wanted to get into PC gaming but money was tight, found him a nice C2Q system [on a classified ad website] with 19 LCD and KM for just $130

                I know some people who are afraid of buying thi

              • by kamapuaa (555446)

                Realistically, even a bare-minimum gaming PC (with Windows & video card) is going to be $500-$600, and more like $700-$800 for something that can play the big games out now at 1080p. Of course many gamers here will spend $1000+. In addition, that requires you to spend the time/deal with the bother of building your own gaming PC - sure, for some people it's kind of fun, for other people they don't enjoy it, and time is money. And then what you set up is going to be a big noisy box that may work great

                • by hairyfeet (841228)

                  Bullshit, you can buy a pretty nice kit that will play anything but the latest ePeen (which lets be honest, some of those guys are just badly coded, see how fans of the original Crysis had to put out a patch because even today's uberrigs choke on the POS code of the last level) at 1600x900 (the most common resolution according to Steam survey last I checked) for less than a Xbone if you shop around.

                  Oh and do not forget that consoles work on the "razor and blades" model which is why you get assraped on the

                  • by kamapuaa (555446)

                    I don't know about this. Call of Duty Ghosts is currently $30 for PC, $30 for XBox, $36 for XBone. New releases are all $60, right? Savings don't sound like much.

                    I don't own an XBOne, I just think gaming PCs are inherently pretty expensive. Your example of $379 for a super cheap gaming PC doesn't include the $100+tax cost of windows, so that's pretty much in line with the $500-$600 I was talking about.

                    Looking at the survey [steampowered.com], it seems 1080p is much more popular than 1600x900. Obviously going higher is b

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Valve has to make the same choices regarding price and hardware tradeoffs.

          Yes, but remember, the PC gaming market has already shown a willingness to pay more than twice the cost of a next-gen console for a really kick-ass gaming experience.

          The key to Valve's success with its Steam Box, IMO, is to keep in mind that PC gamers are a very different market than console gamers. And, they have more money to spend. If they try to position Steam Box as nothing more than a direct competitor to consoles, they will f

          • I'm already putting together a Steam Box that's going to end up costing about 4 times what a next-gen console goes for.

            But why? If you can get a near equivalent experience for 1/4 the price, why waste money on hardware when you can get more games. Then again... that Steam box actually won't have many games.

            And don't tell me that games looking "slightly better" is worth a 4X price premium.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          There's a whole video about it from steam dev days. You can look it up on youtube.

          Basically the touchscreen meant looking away from the screen, refocusing on the controller, which pulled you out of the game.

          What they played with instead is: You have two touchpads and most games steam games have integration with the steam overlay. They've been experimenting with having one of the back buttons pull up a screen actually on screen (I mean, what you would've had on the touchscreen, be it extra buttons, controlle

      • OEMs can not afford to sell steam machines at a loss. Unless Valve cuts them some margin for steam sales to their devices, but imagine all the early adopters buying the cheap pcs and formatting them (so there would be no way for Valve to know that any steam sale was made from a dell steam machine).

        • by tepples (727027)

          but imagine all the early adopters buying the cheap pcs and formatting them

          Why would early adopters need to format a Steam Machine? They can just exit Steam, start GNOME, and run their non-Steam GNU/Linux applications that way.

          • Well yeah, that further reinforces my point. OEMs can not afford to sell at a loss (or very low profit margin) and expect to get their money back from game sales.

            • Yet OEMs accept the low profit margin for sales of commodity desktop PCs. What makes set-top PCs necessarily different, other than that they need a differently styled case?
    • Re: (Score:5, Informative)

      by Guspaz (556486) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:27PM (#46494817)

      They said their reasoning was that a screen on the controller forced you to split your attention between the TV screen and the controller screen. The screen on the controller would only end up being useful when you weren't playing a game, and the cost wasn't worth it for being used strictly for non-gaming.

      So basically cost wasn't the major factor.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Plus, Valve is now using "Ghost Mode".
        They now show what you are touching on top of the game while you are touching it.
        Details are in the Steam Controller talk during the Steam Dev Days; starting 23:35 [youtube.com].

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by firewrought (36952)

        their reasoning was that a screen on the controller forced you to split your attention between the TV screen and the controller screen

        Yep... glad to see someone is learning from the Wii U's mistakes.

      • by tepples (727027)
        Yet the DS printed money despite splitting the player's attention between the Top Screen and the Touch Screen.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          You do realize that the distance between the two screens is less than an inch, right? And that the distance between the top of the top screen and the bottom of the bottom screen is less than six inches?

          Now compare that to the perceived distances between your TV and your controller. Or do you hold your controllers with your arms outstretched parallel to the ground?
        • by Guspaz (556486)

          The DS/3DS treat the two separate screens more like one larger screen. Heck, in the 2DS, they literally are one LCD panel with a bezel stuck on top in the middle. There's a big difference between looking up and down on a tall screen versus shifting your focus from a screen 10 feet away and a screen a foot or two away.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      What costs? Don't be fooled by the high price of the Wii U controller. Touch screens, especially small touch screens are very cheap. They scale in cost depending on the size of the screen. A touch digitiser for a typical mobile phone costs less than $10 in small quantities, so for something the size of what they were proposing you could estimate maybe $2-3 in bulk. The screens themselves aren't much more expensive either unless you're aiming for IPS retina or OLED or some other wanky screen from a high-end

  • OLD NEWS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:01PM (#46494661)

    This was announced January 15th at Steam Dev Days. It was all over the news.

  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:07PM (#46494705)

    http://slashdot.org/submission... [slashdot.org]

    It's just that yesterday (or the day before) they actually unveiled some new imagery showing what it looks like.

    • by Xest (935314)

      Is it me or does it look like someone took an XBox One controller and stuck all the buttons underneath rather than on top? I know it doesn't have thumbsticks but the grips and buttons look identical to those of the Xbox One controller and the Steam button is a blatant rip off of the Xbox One button.

      Given that this, the Wii U Pro controllers, the PS4 controller, and the Xbox One controller are all blatant rip offs of the XBox 360 controller is there some un-admitted acceptance that the Xbox 360 controller wa

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:44PM (#46494901)

    Not that I don't like the idea of a touch screen on the controller but I have yet to see a game take advantage of it properly. So far implementations of the Wii U touch screen have been a major pain to use and serve no real purpose in a game. Even the best example I can think of from the Mario game requires a person to pause, change what they are looking at, and then let go of the controller to press the touch panel.

  • by ledow (319597)

    They probably saw the Wii U and realised the most expensive mistake on it.

    Can't say it'll affect my opinion of their product one way or another.

  • Good for them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jody Bruchon (3404363) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @06:46PM (#46495485)
    No gaming control pad should have a touchscreen. It was absolutely ridiculous on the Wii U and it'd be ridiculous here...especially considering none of the Steam games out already (that I know of) take advantage of such a feature and TBH I find that touchscreens are one of the worst gaming input devices in existence. Actually, touchscreens are the worst modern input devices bar none, excluding point of sale use cases. Tossing the touchscreen is a great choice.
    • Did you ever play Dreamcast? A screen on a controller is bloody BRILLIANT if you can pull it off. The only reason they are pulling it is because of economics, not lack of features or functionality. The X doesnt cross between functionality vs cost, that doesnt mean its useless or dumb.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Jody Bruchon (3404363)
        I've only played that emulated, and I didn't find many of the games I tried to be worth playing except Ikaruga. I don't think that a screen in the controller is very helpful because ultimately one is going to be looking at the screen on...well, uh, the screen. It doesn't make sense to me as to why someone would want a screen and then a completely different screen that requires changing the entire field of view, so I deem it useless, especially in a world slam full of 1080p displays that have more than suffi
        • Because its useful for a myriad of applications. A glaringly obvious example is any football game like Madden, it allows you to look through and choose plays without anyone else seeing your choices. For racing games it would be a great place to put additional telemetry readouts that you dont need to often look at, instead of having them clutter your HUD. Adding more shit onto already cluttered screens breaks the immersion. The less you can show that doesnt belong in the games universe on screen. the better.
    • Re:Good for them (Score:4, Insightful)

      by barc0001 (173002) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @09:33PM (#46496155)

      "No gaming control pad should have a touchscreen. It was absolutely ridiculous on the Wii U"

      I strongly disagree. Used properly, the touchpad and second display can be a great addition. Just look at some of the DS or 3DS games for how it should be done. In fact, if Nintendo would release a WiiU addon that would allow me to use my 3DS cartridges on it, I'd buy it in a heartbeat and airmail them a thank you cake.

  • Why the seperate up down left right buttons? Put a decent D pad on there. The seperate buttons instead of a good D pad is why I hate the all Sony controllers. Xbox can't make a decent D pad. Can anyone make a decent D pad anymore.

    • The twist type dpad on the 360 newer controllers isnt too bad.
    • The seperate buttons instead of a good D pad is why I hate the all Sony controllers.

      I don't have a PS3 or PS4, but the directional pad on at least PlayStation, Dual Shock, and Dual Shock 2 controllers is all one piece of plastic. It has four separate raised segments to avoid Nintendo patents on the cross shape. And in practice, with the thumb lying flat across a PlayStation directional pad, the feel of rolling the thumb from one direction to the next isn't that different from Nintendo's design.

      • In practice left - right or up- down is still horrible. You will tear your thumb up on the separating plastic playing a fighting game with any of those type of combo's.

        • There are these things on the Dual Shock called Analog Sticks, perhaps you should be using them. And if the game is one of those fighting games stuck in 1993 paradigms because the Fighting Game Fanboys insist on it (Street Fighter), perhaps you should play a modern fighting game that uses proper controls.

          Or if you must, plug in an arcade stick.

    • Because the controller by design does not need a dpad. It only needs extra buttons in case you run out of practical mapping.
      You have a left analog zone and haptic feedback on it. And a right analog zone with haptic feedback. Each zone notices the difference between push down and just swiping on the surface. Each zone also has 3 parts, where you can do stuff like map things to the outer and inner edges.
      So for a lot of 3D games, you would do something like
      -Left analog is left zone. Outer edge is used as dpad(

  • They were awful on the PS2. It was impossible to gauge how hard you were pressing....
    • It wasn't impossible, I could tell how hard.....on a controller that wasn't too old. I was able to use the feature in a couple of games. Didn't work so well in Gran Turismo though. I can also bullseye womp-rats.

  • They should all go work for Microsoft. They released a badly designed, poorly planned product that doesn't really work and everyone hated so they dumped the bad features and fixed it prior to release. Microsoft took 8, sent it to the department of "who even gives a fuck anymore", and came up Windows 8.1 and 8.1 update 1.
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