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.
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