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PopWrapped | Technology

Valve Announces The Steam Controller

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author

PopWrapped

Updated 10/25/2013 11:33am
Valve Announces The Steam Controller
Media Courtesy of Valve Software

Jeremy Chai

Technology and Gaming Editor

I am not particularly fond of motion controlled gaming. For someone who grew up with the classic NES, the N64 and the GameCube, there’s nothing better than a good, solid controller in your hands. The feedback is instant and satisfying. There’s very little lag between pressing a button and Mario doing a wall jump on the screen. I tolerated touchscreens because although there was a lot less satisfaction to the physical side of feedback between the user and the machine (for example, the lack of a physical keyboard), there was no noticeable lag. But that’s not the case with motion controls. The time lag between moving your hand and your avatar imitating your movements is apparent in games like Microsoft’s Kinect series – Kinect Adventures comes to mind. The problem is lessened somewhat with Wii games (for lack of camera controlled movement), and there is of course an actual controller to play with. But I worry for the future of video games and its apparent fusion with motion controls and gyroscopes and cameras. Call me boring but buttons work just fine for me. But it seems Valve has made plans for skeptics like me, with their foray into new gaming territory using the alleged Steam Controller. The controller will act as a bridge between Valve’s origins on the PC and its migration to console gaming. For those who do not know, there is a difference between playing the same game on a gamepad vs. playing with a keyboard and mouse. Both offer advantages and disadvantages – for example, the mouse and keyboard offers an extreme pinpoint accuracy in shooters for twitch reaction gaming – which often decides the fate of either the player or the opponent on the screen. Gamepads cannot offer the same accuracy. This is often why there is often some sort of compromise such as soft lock targeting (the game will guide your weapon to your opponent – albeit not completely) in console games. The Steam Controller is the solution to this problem – both of the best from both mediums in a single handheld controller. The control scheme is unique – instead of thumb sticks that frequent the Xbox 360 and PS3 (and soon their respective successors), the Steam controller uses clickable track pads. Their input, according to Valve, will approach the resolution of a desktop mouse. Aside from the track pads the Steam Controller features a wide array of interesting features, including a large centre touchscreen, a total of 16 buttons (symmetrically placed for accessibility), half of which are reached without moving one’s hands around the gamepad, and resonant actuators – electro magnets that respond to input from the game and deliver more precise controller feedback to the player than the traditional ‘rumble’ feature that has been used so commonly to this day. All of these features, of course, are fully configurable and customizable, as any PC gamer may expect when fitting control schemes best suited to them. Valve claims that the controller was designed to be ‘hackable’, aka super modifiable, much like its previous two announcements. If the controller lives up to these claims, we are going to have one gamepad of epic proportions. Here’s one player hoping for the best, Valve. For those of you who are interested in how the Steam Controller plays on games, take a look at the video below from Valve. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeAjkbNq4xI
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