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PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Hands-on with Steam Controller at CES 2014">IMG_1219_web







At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Valve's Steam Machines are king. The Half-Life developer and Steam creator held a press conference that that everyone wanted to attend, but flipped the script when it devoted the majority of the event to its hardware partners. But even though Gabe Newell gave the briefest of briefs, some Valve-only content was still available: The company's press area included six Steam Machine prototype stations, giving the press a chance to try some popular games with the fabled Steam Controller.



For me, this was a first chance to test how Valve's haptic-powered trackpads hold up in first-person games such as Metro: Last Light and Portal 2. I came away interested in the technology, but not impressed enough to be completely sold on the concept.



The controllers on display were hooked up to 40" televisions through prototype Steam Machine hardware ostensibly the same boxes sent to beta testers late last year. Each test station had a comfortable couch to sit on, emulating a best-case living room gaming setup. Eagerly, I sat down at a station and started playing Metro: Last Light, sliding my thumbs along the controller's rigid trackpads to move and look. The Steam Controller prototype this isn't final hardware by any means uses its haptic feedback capabilities to vibrate under your thumb as you slide across its trackpads. It's an odd sensation: I was acutely aware of each move or twitch I made on the controller's surface, but I'm not sure what it added to the tactile experience.



The trackpads were also incredibly sensitive, at least on the default settings. This isn't necessarily bad: many gamers crank their mouse sensitivity in order to maximize movement. On first picking up the controller, however, it was extremely surprising. I've played shooters on a dual analog joystick setup before, and am used to a decided lack of quickness available the aiming stick will often glide along slowly, and in many cases, a game will throw in some aiming assistance to compensate. There was none of that with the Steam Controller, which means you're getting a purer experience. But it was initially much harder to aim than I'd hoped, and I never quite adapted to the accelerated aiming in my 10 minutes of playtime.







Clicking the dual trackpad controls was also incredibly easy, sometimes to my detriment. I'd crouch when I wasn't expecting to, because the clickiness of the left trackpad was much easier than I'm used to on a thumbstick. I'd like to think that's something to which one can adapt with enough time.



As far as additional buttons, the Steam Controller has plenty for a standard shooter setup. Two sets of triggers on the shoulders could aim and fire, and the buttons on the underside of the controller were responsive and didn't get in the way. The face buttons were easy to reach, though the non-standard setup meant I had to think more about what buttons I wanted to push. Configuring the buttons seemed easy, with a built-in interface that lets you change buttons on the fly.



Games such as Metro: Last Light and Portal 2 make intuitive sense on the Steam Controller, while my limited experience with Starbound proved to be slightly more frustrating, as Evan predicted in his editorial last week. The trackpads' sensitivity didn't lend itself to movement on a 2D plane, though this could be because Starbound isn't quite optimized in its controls the game is Early Access, after all. The ultimate test for Steam Controller, in my opinion, will be games with independent camera and character movement, like Dota 2. Sadly, I didn't get to play one.







I definitely want Steam Controller to succeed I love the idea of a new controller standard, although it would need to live alongside keyboard and mouse controls for other PC functions. And I'm hopeful after an admittedly short playtime with a Steam Controller prototype that such a device could be fantastic. But I need more time to evaluate if such a controller can be viable, and I'd need to see if it really is possible to adapt to such aggressive sensitivity controls.



It doesn't seem like Valve will divulge any release dates or pricing at this year's event--either for the controller or any of the Steam Machines--but I'm confident that Valve's device could be a significantly better experience than existing controllers.
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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Nathan Grayson)

We’ve heard tell of the Steam controller‘s ins and outs (and ups and downs and lefts and rights and Bs and As and starts) from many a developer, but still skepticism reigns. And with good reason: Valve’s haptics-powered Franken-pad is kinda bonkers. But now, at the very least, we can see – with eyes or echolocation – how it functions moment-to-moment. Go below to see it power through Portal 2, Civilization V, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Papers Please.

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PC Gamer
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Valve's Steam Controller is a funny-looking thing—an owl-like game pad with dual trackpads instead of analog sticks. It pairs with Valve's free SteamOS and whatever living room PC it's installed on as a solution to the clumsiness of using a mouse and keyboard on the couch. In a new video demonstration, Valve does its best to convince us that Steam Controller really offers a level of control comparable to our traditional instruments of gaming.



First we see Portal 2, which demonstrates that—unlike analog sticks—the trackpads can be configured for 1-to-1 control. "Directly move your thumb a fixed amount of distance on the pad, and the view will correspond to the fixed amount of distance," says Hardware Engineer Jeff Bellinghausen. Meanwhile, he says, the left trackpad has been configured as a D-pad to simulate WASD.



Later in the video, Bellinghausen plays Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with great accuracy, though his aiming looks a bit slower than it might have been with a mouse—obviously, we'd need to see a comparison video of him playing with a mouse to know for sure. Civilization V and Papers, Please also demonstrate how accurate the trackpad is for mouse-based games.



It looks like it works—not just like a mouse, but like something more accurate and responsive than analog sticks. Trying to move a mouse pointer around with velocity-based control is miserable, and this doesn't look miserable. Seeing isn't believing—we need to feel this thing in our hands to judge it—but it does build confidence, and Valve will be posting updates like this "frequently."
Shacknews - Steve Watts
We've seen the promo shots of the Steam controller and heard generally positive reactions from indie developers, but we haven't yet seen it in action. That changed today, with a demonstration video that shows the prototype being used to control games ranging from the generally console-friendly shooters to more PC-centric titles.
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Valve has signed off on a deal with Toon Hero creator Trigger Happy, to allow use of their Portal 2 characters and assets in the cartoon creator app. It starts rolling out this week with the addition of P-Body, one of the two co-op robots from the game.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

I do love a strangely shaped worldPortal 2 wasn’t nearly as messed-up as it could have been. I loved it, and still pop in now and again to enjoy the physics and writing, but I always wish they’d went further and curly-wurlied the gravity and surroundings. Every time a room was fixed in front of me, I wished the same tech was used to just turn everything upside down, inside out, or that it would twist the testing chambers into odd, broken configurations. I am a very needy person. With that in mind, I’m interested in this Greenlight begging puzzle game, Tri. A FPS puzzle game where you drag out triangular walkways to cross the world. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Nathan Grayson)

It's like they say: you can't squeeze blood from a stone. You have to use a really, really big axe.

You might remember that DOTA 2 officially launched not too long ago. This may in part be due to the fact that it’s one of the biggest PC games ever>, making it difficult to forget about in the same way that a herd of rhinoceroses just kind of hanging out in your living room would at least spend a fair amount of time in your peripheral vision. It is, of course, already quite good, but Valve plans to continue updating it until the Earth molts away its wriggly organic shell, leaving behind naught but dust and roaches. The first step in that process? A (very) soon-to-be-launched update fittingly titled First Blood. It includes LAN play! Also lots of other things, including Portal’s own wise-cracking cracker of psyches GLaDOS as an announcer. Details below.

(more…)

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