Over the weekend we covered the announcement that Valve had its own controller in the works, but it looks so different from what traditional controllers have with regards to features and aesthetics, that the jury's still out on whether the public will bite. Fortunately, some developers have had a sneak preview of it and so far they like what they see – but they do agree it's pretty different.
One common comment, is that there is a slight learning curve. Once you're passed that stage however, the controls are said to be quite intuitive. For those who missed it- the controllers key differences are: thumb track pads, ABXY buttons are placed around a touch screen in the centre and improved haptic feedback using electro magnets.
First up we have one half of ‘Team Meat', Tommy Refenes, who in a long blog post, went over his frustrations with certain controllers along with his refusal to play any game with bad controls. Once that's out of the way, he begins to explain his experience with Steam controller.
“I was able to play Meat Boy the way Meat Boy can be played on an advanced level (and I’m rusty at it). The right circle button was the jump button and we had both Triggers mapped to the Run button just like a regular Xbox 360 controller. We also had the Run button mapped to the back trigger buttons I mentioned before that can be pressed with your fingers on the back of the pad. This worked great but did lead to a bit of hand cramping. I think this is due more to the way you use the run button in Meat Boy and not the design of the controller or the buttons.”
Valve engineers were prepared to listen to feedback and discuss new ideas or slight changes that could be made to make it better. Tommy discussed the idea of putting little nubs on the track-pads after finding himself yearning for more physical feedback from the controls.
Another Indie developer, Ichiro Lambe, also had a chance to use the new gamepad, opting to play a first person shooter. He mentiond that the haptic feedback in the trackpads makes an impression, making it feel as though the trackpads have edges. When asked to summarise his experience, Ichiro said: “It's familiar enough to be accessible, I believe they tried less conventional designs before they went with a form factor similar to existing gamepads, but much more precise for anything WASD+mouselook.” When talking about FPS games specifically he said that it gives you a much more comfortable and precise feel when compared to other gamepads.
Other developers trying out the controller currently include: Relic, Creative Assembly, Paradox Interactive and IO Interactive. With so many developers on board, trying out the controls and working out how it would incorporate into genres ranging from RTS to FPS, it's only a matter of time before we see more. Valve is clearly expecting the controller to be versatile and diverse in regards to all of the games it can comfortably support.
KitGuru Says: The developer feedback has gotten me intrigued, especially since it seems to work over a wide range of genres. The long blog post from Tommy Refenes is a must read for more information, as he goes in to so much detail on his experience.
What do you guys think of the controller?