The Steam controller! No, not Half Life 3, lets face it- thats just unrealistic at this point. Valve have been experimenting with inputs over the last year, trying to bridge the gap between the desk and the sofa with no compromises on control and ease of use.
The controller is designed to work with every single game in the Steam catalogue, even the ones that don't have native controller support built in. Valve are claiming they have invented a vastly superior control scheme with high precision controls and low latencies.
The controller will feature thumb trackpads rather than analogue sticks, allowing for high precision, the entire surface also acts as a button. Games previously limited to keyboard and mouse input can now be played with a controller such as: strategy games, RTS games or even simulation games. Not sure if an MMO would exactly be playable but i'm sure Valve has an idea or two for that.
Valve had a lot to say on the issue of haptic feedback:
“The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement.”
This new haptic feedback system will provide the player information on speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations or in-game events that you will need to be aware of while playing the game.
Next up on the feature list, is the touch screen in the centre of the controller. The whole screen functions as another clickable button, allowing you to use the touch input to scroll through actions and options, decide what you want and then commit to the chosen action with a click rather than tapping the touch screen. Developers will be able to use this screen to programme menu screens, second screen information, mini maps or even things Valve haven't thought of themselves yet.
Button placement was designed for ergonomic comfort, although that is probably down to personal preference. The controller features 16 buttons with half of them accessible without moving your thumbs from the trackpads. All buttons are symmetrical allowing left handed players to tick a box and use the controller naturally.
For older Steam games, Valve have implemented a legacy mode that tricks the game into thinking the controller is actually a full keyboard and mouse. For more in depth information you can visit the announcement page here. Theres even a little Q&A at the bottom.
KitGuru Says: I've been pretty satisfied with the Xbox 360 controller for years now, but being an open minded person i'm excited to try out this controller. Valve have clearly put a lot of effort in to the design. What do you guys think of the controller? Do you think it could work as well as a mouse and keyboard?