Friday, 27 September 2013

Steam Controller

There've been announcements for Steam OS and Steam Machines, which are cool and all, but this is the announcement that really has my attention: the Steam controller.

Trackpads instead of sticks? You have my attention.

Even ignoring the article's enthusiasm, I can easily see how good trackpads can be more sensitive than analog sticks. I'll be very interested to get my hands on one of these and check out the configuration options. The main one I'm thinking of is acceleration, and whether or not I'll want it. I hate mouse acceleration because it makes it harder to build muscle memory and instinct for how far you need to move the mouse to move your cursor (since it's different depending on speed). But with small trackpads I'm wondering where the balance lies between sensitivity and precision - ie, if I want very precise control, will I have to be lifting my thumbs and scrolling repeatedly for larger movements? As someone who doesn't like shooters on a controller,  it'll be fun to see how well this controller stacks up.

Looks like the ridges, concavity, and haptic feedback will be very helpful in centreing your thumbs, like the tabs on the F and J keys on a keyboard.

I'll also be interested to see if you can set the trackpads to work as up/down/left/right buttons, to mirror the A/B/X/Y functionality on existing controllers - the games I normally play with a controller don't use two sticks, they use one stick and buttons (Zelda, Assassin's Creed, Arkham, Castle Crashers, Smash Bros, etc).

I already applied for the Steam Machine beta, and the beta for the controller uses the same process - in other words if you've applied for the first beta you've already applied for the second. Here's hoping I make it in!

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