Valve knocked the collective socks off the PC gaming community when they made good on their promise of three major announcements that would help explain the company’s hardware goals for the coming years. First came SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system meant to make the most of the Steam architecture, followed shortly after by the announcement of an entire line of Steam Machines.
But what really got tongues wagging among both PC fans and console gamers was Valve’s stick-less Steam Controller. Replacing two analog joysticks with a pair of touchpads raised eyebrows, with many questioning how well the technology would work for different genres of games. Valve has addressed those concerns in a brand new video demonstrating the controller’s precision in a number of different arenas.
Demonstrating the Steam Controller using both Portal 2 and CS:GO – two of Valve’s most beloved properties – is a wise move, especially if they aim to convince players that their stick-less controller might actually approach the precision and movement afforded by a mouse and keyboard. But that portion of the video also highlights one function of the controller that many may not have realized; the touchpads also act as button inputs when areas of the pad are pressed, not moved across (helping to explain the less intuitive positioning of the face buttons around the central screen.
With first-person shooters out of the way, Valve attempts to prove that the Steam Controller won’t collapse when faced with a game as complex as Civilization V. The footage may not convince players that the controller can handle the faster pace of a real-time strategy title, but the developers seem to have come up with a few clever ways of navigating a large game world without a keyboard or mouse.
One of the most interesting moments of the video comes while playing the “mouse-focused” indie title Papers, Please. For those who aren’t familiar with the point-and-click game, the vast majority of gameplay centers on moving the mouse throughout a series of menus – in other words, demanding the speed and absolute aiming that only a mouse can provide.
But where the previous shooters demand that the right finger be swiped across the pad multiple times to complete a 360-degree turn, moving both fingers across their pads in Papers, Please combined the actions into a single, faster, longer swipe of the cursor. It was only a slight trick, but one that could help convince skeptics that Valve does, after all, know what they’re doing.
In addition to this demonstration video, Valve has also come forward to alleviate concerns arising from the release of their target specs for the upcoming range of Steam Machine prototypes. When the range of specs for the Machines was released, readers noticed that only Nvidia video cards were mentioned as being utilized for the current prototypes. The assumption that Nvidia has landed an exclusive deal quickly spread, but Valve’s Doug Lombardi has explained that isn’t the case:
“Last week, we posted some technical specs of our first wave of Steam Machine prototypes. Although the graphics hardware that we’ve selected for the first wave of prototypes is a variety of Nvidia cards, that is not an indication that Steam Machines are Nvidia-only. In 2014, there will be Steam Machines commercially available with graphics hardware made by AMD, Nvidia, and Intel. Valve has worked closely together with all three of these companies on optimizing their hardware for SteamOS, and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.”
What do you think of the Steam Controller after watching the video? Has it laid some of your concerns to rest for the time being, or will you only be convinced once you get a chance to use it for yourself? Sound off in the comments.
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Source: Valve, MaximumPC