September 29, 2013
Valve Announces New Controller
The third of three announcements made by Valve, much to everyone’s expectations was not in fact Half Life 3, but a new controller for the Steam Machine. And while were all disappointed that Half Life 3 was not confirmed, here are some features you can look forward to
For starters, Valve has scrapped the traditional twin stick controller design and replaced it with dual trackpads. Driven by your thumbs, each trackpad is a high-resolution base. In addition to the higher resolution, the entire surface is clickable, allowing it to act as a button. This allows far higher fidelity and more precise aiming on the console, which is something the PC has always held over and current gen systems and has been a challenge to overcome in an attempt to bridge the two.
Another feature Valve has tackled is to integrate with the new controller is a new form of haptic feedback. While the traditional rumble feature of the current gen controller is a lopsided weight spun around a single axis, Valve opted to replace these with dual linear resonant actuators. These compact weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads, and have the capacity of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control. Valve has also stated that these will give the trackpads a wide variety of tactile features, and can even function as speakers.
Not to be confused as borrowing an idea from Sony, Valve’s new controller has improved upon the idea of a touch screen center controller by both re-purposing and redesigning it. Firstly, the entire screen is clickable and many actions will require a hard click as opposed to a light touch. This allows users to touch the screen, browse available actions and then commit to the action they wanted. What separates this from the Sony Dualshock IV is the new controller’s touch screen is programmed to display on top of the game they’re playing, to help players keep their eyes on the screen.
And it wouldn’t be a controller without buttons. This new controller is no exception. Of the total sixteen buttons on the controller, half of them are accessible to the player without requiring your thumbs to be lifted from the trackpads, including the two on the back. Another new feature is the buttons on the controller are symmetrical, which is great news for anyone who wants to modify their settings, or for those who are left hand dominant. And for all you keyboard jockies out there, don’t worry; Valve has stated they will not abandon the keyboard and mouse.
Just as icing on the cake, as Valve likes to do, the controller will be open source and open for modifying. Currently, Valve has stated they plan to offer tools to enable participants from all aspects to modify and redesign their controllers.
Well, that wraps it up for this announcement. And while the angry mob outside their studio gets ready to burn the building three times, Valve has announced more updates coming later this year, including the SteamOS and the Steam Machine. Will this be enough to sedate the Half Life induced fury? For now, we’ll have to wait and see.
Image Credit: Valve Corporation