We mentioned on Thursday that SEGA executives had tried out the Steam Controller and offered up their opinions, to round off a story about AMD GPUs confirmed as being included in commercial Steam Machines arriving in 2014. The new controller is very interesting because of Valve’s claims that it represents the “biggest missing link” between PC gaming and living room gaming, furthermore it “could bridge the gap from the desk to the living room without compromises”. It seems like Valve has listened to the intense chatter about this gamepad and has thus been prompted to release a gameplay video, with a controller overlay, showing how the new device works.
Valve engineer Jeff Bellinghausen starts with Portal, which hasn’t got built-in support for the pad but uses ‘legacy mode’ which emulates a mouse and keyboard input. The 3D first person action looks fluid and responsive and easy to control intuitively. That’s a good start.
Next up, for a change of genre and change of pace, is Civilisation 5. Jeff played a bit on this game but as he played I saw his right thumb having to sweep along a few times to move the mouse pointer across the screen – like if your mousing surface is too small. It reminded me of when I used a computer on a glass desk equipped with a tiny mousepad.
Next up we see a bit of CounterStike: Global Offensive gaming. Jeff says the new controller “allows you to play first person shooters without any kind of auto-aim tech on”. You can see him play through the training section, quickly moving and aligning the crosshairs on ‘baddies’ heads. Unfortunately I am not sure whether some seasoned console gamers can do just as well with a traditional DualShock style controller.
Lastly a game called ‘Papers Please’ is demonstrated. This game apparently is largely mouse based and for this the controller is configured with both touchpads working together to move the mouse in a ‘blended mode’. The blended mode seems to address the comment I made earlier about multiple sweeps of the pad needed to move the mouse pointer across the screen. It appears that in this mode one pad moves the pointer swiftly while the other is used for precision placement.
Valve promises “We'll post more demonstrations like this soon, including footage of some other game developers using the controller to play their own games.” The same controller will ship in the 300 Steam Machines give away.