#1 Edited by Sin4profit (2910 posts) -

So images of the new Steam Controller design are floating around. They're ditching the touch screen (say Ghost Mode makes it redundant) and placing the buttons in a more traditional "diamond" configuration.

I feel like ditching the touch screen was a good call as it would be a novelty at best and would draw an unnecessary amount of power when used wirelessly.

Creating the diamond pattern is a better call for the buttons but the way i imagine the thumbs being used on this controller i feel like the buttons sit low under the thumb and would be awkward for the traditional way you place your thumbs across two buttons.

i hope there will be more design iterations as that huge empty space in the middle is kinda bumming me out.

All around there are better ideas here but, as someone who has never touched the thing, i feel like there needs to be more work.

What do you think? Better? Worse? ...or did you just hate this thing from the beginning?

[Edit x2]

Here's another picture of an obviously very early prototype in hand - and a photoshopped suggested change in the layout that i think would work better.

Suggested change in layout

#2 Posted by TriBeard (124 posts) -

I didn't ever hate it, but i just didn't see what it would offer ME over a 360 controller, or especially a ps4 controller with proper drivers. Sure, the touchpad is better than sticks in some games, but I never play those kind of games away from a keyboard and mouse. In fact, I rarely play games not on my computer monitor while in my computer chair. I just like to use the controller for certain games, particularly those that were build with it in mind. The steam controller seemed interesting and I would love to try one out, but I just don't know that it's worth whatever they are going to charge for it when we already have alternatives that seem to be almost as good.

That being said, the screen was one of the more interesting factors for me, and I'm sad to see it go. Now it's really just another controller with goofy thumbsticks.

#3 Posted by MB (12072 posts) -

So...the controller has been drastically changed since the 300+ prototypes were produced for beta? That wasn't that long ago.

Something strange about this whole thing but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Moderator
#4 Posted by Butano (1728 posts) -

The touchscreen and the button placements around it looked really uncomfortable to actually use. The new design looks like it could benefit for 2D platformers or fighting games, with the left buttons functioning as basically a d-pad.

#5 Edited by DaddyCabinet (179 posts) -
@mb said:

So...the controller has been drastically changed since the 300+ prototypes were produced for beta? That wasn't that long ago.

Something strange about this whole thing but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Maybe they got some shitty feedback from beta testers and are trying to address the issues. I dont really like touchscreens all the much and would rather see physical buttons anyway. They would probably be better served putting them around the thumbpads.

#6 Posted by Sin4profit (2910 posts) -

@butano: hard to say without putting my hands on it but i get a sense that the buttons will be awkward to use in that position. Valve has talked about the design of the handles and how it molds your hand to make it easier for your thumb tips to touch the pad rather than lay your thumb across it (traditionally). Also the angle looks like your thumb would lay more comfortably across [ B - X ] as appose to [ A - X ] and [B - Y] may result in an awkward arc the way the handles are designed.

@tribeard: I'm curious what developers can do with it or if there can be any creative uses added to games that we don't think of with thumbsticks. Things like "turning" the touchpad as a dial (think ipod Classic) for steering in racing games. I think it has the potential to be a lot more dynamic than the modern traditional style.

@mb: I guess the feedback from the 300 beta prototypes are fairly worthless now, unless this is just a super experimental build based on the beta feedback (new design looks pretty hastily put together from the second picture)

#7 Posted by Hyuzen (445 posts) -

I dunno, I've tried playing something like Black Ops 2 on the Wii U Pro controller, and having the face buttons below the right analog stick seemed like a bad idea. Then again, having 2 buttons right next to the left thumbrest and 2 next to the right thumbrest on the original steam controller also seemed like a bad idea.

But if we're talking about primarily keyboard + mouse games, and not twitch shooters or the like then maybe this would be okay. Really interested in trying it out someday in the future.

#8 Posted by ShaggyDude (136 posts) -

I like the idea of trackpads instead of sticks, and at the same time I know it will take some getting used to. Some people who have used the steam controller claim they got their head around it in 15 minutes which sounds really fast to me. I really want to throw X-COM at a Steam controller since that game uses just about every button on a 360 controller and since it's turn based I could take my time getting a feel for it.

I've never felt comfortable taking my thumb off the stick to hit face buttons in 1st and 3rd person games where basically you are just letting go of the camera when you want to do anything with the face buttons. I got used to it after many hours with Halo, but I can sympathize with people who pick up an unfamiliar controller and just suck with it.

Now this might sound strange, and it might not LOOK pretty, but I really like the buttons under the handles on the Steam controller, so why not put even more buttons on the under side so I never had to take my thumbs from the pads?

#9 Posted by Andorski (5204 posts) -

The left four buttons should be a D-Pad. Then you have a controller that can handle platformers and other 2D genres well.

#10 Edited by ripelivejam (3586 posts) -

it feels like they're backpedaling a bit. i liked that they were willing to take risks and try to innovate. on the other hand i wonder how useful the touchscreen would have been anyway, and this will probably save a lot on the MSRP in the end.

just hope the trackpads add something to the experience, and work somewhat as intended...

#11 Posted by crithon (3081 posts) -

I always thought the touch pad and the buttons around would feel horrible just pushing your fingers further in. This is decent, but it's all weird want them to continue going all buck wild with it.

#12 Edited by Hunter5024 (5555 posts) -

I was hoping they would do this ever since I saw the first design. Still doesn't seem ideal though. I just don't know how I feel about having the directional inputs above the buttons, plus a proper dpad will always be better for certain games, and that weird empty space in the middle seems like kind of a waste. I'm curious what they will call the buttons, I hope it's not A, B, X, Y. It should be fantasy creatures. Hold Centaur to run, Tap Kraken to attack.

#13 Posted by joshwent (2143 posts) -

it feels like they're backpedaling a bit. i liked that they were willing to take risks and try to innovate.

Couldn't this just be the result of them taking that risk? My main hope after seeing the initial release of the controller was that the pad gave enough tactile response to function as the traditional 4 button (A,B,X,Y) layout that many games are designed around. After hearing people's experiences, it seemed that schemes which had you using the pad as buttons felt awkward and inaccurate. So this redesign just seems to be offering a solution to that problem.

#14 Posted by TheHT (10930 posts) -

The one in the second picture sorta kinda looks like it's made of wood. That would be AWESOME. At least until you start getting splinters. Or until you realize it's not that comfortable. Or until it spontaneously combusts.

#15 Edited by joshwent (2143 posts) -

@theht: With all those fucking knives, I'd imagine Gabe Newell is pretty good at whittling...

#16 Posted by Sin4profit (2910 posts) -

@andorski: @hunter5024: yeah a dpad for the left side may be a better option and the naming of the buttons brings up an interesting point as it maybe a design issue to communicate what button is what when the layouts look identical, a dpad would also help with this.

@shaggydude: I don't think it sounds crazy, I'm surprised the under buttons aren't a rocker switch giving you at least four inputs without moving your thumbs.

#17 Edited by fr0sterson (57 posts) -

I love it! Seems like it'll help them keep the cost down and get a better adoption rate for these things. Besides, who wants a controller you can't be a little rough with? Seems like you're just asking for trouble playing meat boy with a controller that'll break when you throw it across the room. I'm sure the familiarity of the button layouts will make it less scary for the public as well.

The traditional button layout seems like it'll make a lot of traditional 3d games a lot more playable. I wasn't sure how a game like Metal Gear Rising (for example) would play with the weird button layout but with this it's super easy to imagine. GG Valve

#18 Edited by Lunnington (153 posts) -

I'm interested in it purely because I don't like the 360 controller for VR/Oculus. I think this will be much better. The new buttons seem a little weird and I'm disappointed that they decided not to do a touch screen, but obviously they want it to be the best product possible so I imagine they did this for good reason.

I just reaaalllyyy want to use one already.

#19 Posted by egg (1450 posts) -

@tribeard said:

Sure, the touchpad is better than sticks in some games, but I never play those kind of games away from a keyboard and mouse.

"Valve is making a controller not for me, but for the vast majority of console gamers. Rubbish!"

Well it is between a rock and a hard place... console gamers are fine with sticks... so we dunno what makes Valve think they can get everyone to switch.

#20 Posted by ripelivejam (3586 posts) -

a lot of people are curious enough to at least try it, and maybe it works fantastically so then it will catch on. i'm just happy they're trying something new, and at least on paper it seems like a plausible alternative to mouse and keyboard. if it retails for $40 or less i'm more than willing to spring for it.

#21 Posted by LiquidPrince (15855 posts) -

The placement is reminiscent of the Wii U button placements. I hate the Wii U button placement. They should swap the buttons and touch areas so that it more resembles the PS4 placement. Then again the left hand buttons aren't really a DPAD so that may not work. Eh, this controller looks dumb still. Keeping working away.

#22 Posted by AMyggen (2609 posts) -

a lot of people are curious enough to at least try it, and maybe it works fantastically so then it will catch on. i'm just happy they're trying something new, and at least on paper it seems like a plausible alternative to mouse and keyboard. if it retails for $40 or less i'm more than willing to spring for it.

Yeah, I agree. I'm not that into the button placement though, seems a bit awkward. But we'll see how it works I guess.

#23 Edited by Amafi (534 posts) -

Seems better, but still awkward.

#24 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3758 posts) -

The buttons look like they came straight off the OG Xbox (which was the issue with that controller).

#25 Posted by TriBeard (124 posts) -

I won't rule it out, but I'm definitely holding off until it's final, retail hardware and I see both how it's implemented in games, and what other people's experience with it is like before I'm willing to spend money on it. And if they charge 60 bucks for it like the console controllers, that's going to make it an even harder sell for me.

#26 Posted by Sin4profit (2910 posts) -

@liquidprince: I think that's a great idea and solves a lot of issues that i foresee with this new layout. So i went ahead and photoshopped what i beleive to be a better layout, similar to what you've suggested.

@egg: i don't think they're asking people to switch, it's more a case of solving the problem of all games not having gamepad support on the PC. I've tried X padder with a 360 controller and using the sticks to try to guide the mouse was fairly awkward.

@lunnington: It sounds like, "ghost mode" as they call it, would be a better fit for VR anyway since you wouldn't be able to see the touch screen with the headset on.

#27 Edited by agentboolen (1752 posts) -

I just don't think i would want to use a touch pad for a controller instead of analog sticks. Its an interesting idea but i don't think there is away of making this thing a winner. I'll stick with the xbox controller.

#28 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2990 posts) -

Yeah not too sure about touchpads instead of sticks. Especially now I'm used to those sweet sweet DS4 sticks.

#29 Posted by ChaosDent (234 posts) -

@geraltitude: @agentboolen: Analog sticks feel great for current AAA games because that's what those games were built for. the touchpads on this controller should be much better suited to replacing direct pointer input than a stick and who knows what will happen when games are tailored for this input?

Overall I think the change from central buttons and a touch screen to two diamond button arrangements make sense, but something looks off about that mock-up. Hopefully it just means they tweaked the design as little as possible to get their point across and they are going back to the drawing board with respect to shape and ergonomics. I'm still excited about this controller, and I think this change will help make it more amenable to games designed for digital console controls.

#30 Edited by GERALTITUDE (2990 posts) -

@geraltitude: @agentboolen: Analog sticks feel great for current AAA games because that's what those games were built for. the touchpads on this controller should be much better suited to replacing direct pointer input than a stick and who knows what will happen when games are tailored for this input?

Overall I think the change from central buttons and a touch screen to two diamond button arrangements make sense, but something looks off about that mock-up. Hopefully it just means they tweaked the design as little as possible to get their point across and they are going back to the drawing board with respect to shape and ergonomics. I'm still excited about this controller, and I think this change will help make it more amenable to games designed for digital console controls.

That's a fair point but what I'm saying is I'll always prefer the sensation of manipulating a stick over a touchpad. It goes like so Stick > buttons > touchpad. This sounds hilarious but, moving a firm, tight stick is the most gratifying mechanical manipulation of a character for me. The problem with this great feeling stick is that it isn't precise enough (even though yes, the DS4 is far more precise than the DS3) for games that require direct pointer input.

This is another of my problems with the Steam box. The controller logic is fuzzy.

For games that don't need a mouse, the PS4 or XONE controller will always feels better, because for that kind of input Stick > Touchpad 100% of the time

For games that require a mouse, the Steam controller will be better - but a Mouse will be better than that. And you know what else about games that usually require super precise mouse pointing? Usually, you need to be close to the monitor.

#31 Edited by Amafi (534 posts) -

@geraltitude: That's not even getting into the other issues a lot of mouse driven games have.

Try playing Crusader Kings or another menu driven game like that from 12 feet away on a decent sized TV. Problem isn't how you're gonna use the mouse and keyboard from the couch, it's reading the damned interface. And there are a LOT of games that are designed for the PC that are like that, simply because they weren't made to be readable from that distance.

But I'm sure Valve will fix the interface of all those games when they port them to linux.

#32 Posted by Sin4profit (2910 posts) -

@amafi: I'm sure they'll address this issue and i'd imagine it would most likely be some form of "pinch to zoom" system.

@geraltitude: If Valve sticks (no pun intended) to the concept of a modular component system, which their early patent implied they were originally going for, it would be easy enough to create a makeshift analog stick over the touch surface. That's a big "if" though, and it would rely on the outer rings of the touchpad to be able to mount separate devices to, like the threaded rings of an SLR camera lense.

#33 Edited by Andorski (5204 posts) -

This looks like a great revision, but I wonder how comfortable it would be to have your thumbs at those lower positions. According to Tested.com, the controller's body shape positions your hands in such a way where your thumbs directly over the touchpads. By moving the touchpads downward, it might not be as comfortable to position your thumbs over that area with the tip of your digit making contact.

#34 Posted by ChaosDent (234 posts) -

@geraltitude said:

For games that don't need a mouse, the PS4 or XONE controller will always feels better, because for that kind of input Stick > Touchpad 100% of the time

I can't respond to this assertion because I haven't used the Steam controller touchpads, I don't have an opinion on how it feels because I haven't used one. The people who have say that it's a mistake to compare them to laptop touchpads.

For games that require a mouse, the Steam controller will be better - but a Mouse will be better than that. And you know what else about games that usually require super precise mouse pointing? Usually, you need to be close to the monitor.

This is definitely true of many, but not all pointer based games. There won't be a solution for all games, but I expect the presence of the Steam controller and Big Picture mode will influence future game development in a way that largely addresses this.

#35 Posted by Sin4profit (2910 posts) -

@andorski: Yeah, it's frustrating not being able to get my hands on it to make more sense of it.

Though, with the thumb pads at the bottom (the photoshopped image), the body of the controller would have to be redesigned to be flatter like a normal controller. I feel like the concave design choice (mentioned @ 1:37) is only necessary because of the thumb positional problems that are introduced by positioning the touchpads at the top. If you hold a 360 controller and place your thumbs on the bottom, under the d-pad and right thumbstick, you'll notice that your thumb creates a natural arc there placing your thumb tips on the surface.

Also as Will said, movement in FPS is awkward with the touch pad so i think having a dpad used to function as WASD is also a better solution while the aiming is done on the right touchpad.

#36 Posted by Amafi (534 posts) -

@amafi: I'm sure they'll address this issue and i'd imagine it would most likely be some form of "pinch to zoom" system.

@geraltitude: If Valve sticks (no pun intended) to the concept of a modular component system, which their early patent implied they were originally going for, it would be easy enough to create a makeshift analog stick over the touch surface.That's a big "if" though, and it would rely on the outer rings of the touchpad to be able to mount separate devices to, like the threaded rings of an SLR camera lense.

No way that would work. That would make playing the games just...godawful. And it's not just slow turn based stuff either, it's almost every single PC exclusive game ever made. Getting that stuff to work from far away without just setting the resolution to 320x240 is going to be a real problem. It's completely obvious to anyone who's ever actually had a PC hooked up to their TV for any length of time but somehow it's never mentioned. It's weird, almost like none of the people talking about how great all this shit will be has never used Debian or tried playing PC exclusives with tiny ui elements on a TV.

#37 Edited by cassus (346 posts) -

Having the track pads put towards the center where the Dual Shock has its sticks is going to ruin your hands completely. The surfaces are track surfaces, they need the TIP of your finger, not the side. Having the trackpads situated where the thumbs naturally point towards when relaxed is the only way to do this, so that's not getting moved without completely redesigning the way it's held.

Also.. Why would we want more controllers where the joysticks are placed in the most horrible place imaginable? Having to extend your thumbs out to the side is the main reason the Dual Shocks have been inferior to other joypads for quite some time. Ergonomically, I mean. You're not supposed to sit with your thumbs extended out to the side by force for hours on end.. It's like giving a thumbs up indefinitely. That's gonna fuck up muscles in your hands and arms, plain and simple.

What they need to do is add more buttons for the fingers that aren't your thumbs.. Alt on left pinkie, shift on right pinkie, L/R trigger and L/R bumper. Shifting and alting means you have LB RB and Alt+ LB RB and Shift + LB RB. Even alt + shift + LB RB.

The biggest problem will be with the size. I can already tell that this controller isn't made for people with smaller hands. And seeing as controllers have become a one size fits all type of thing, there's really no reason for anyone who isn't average or above average in size to wait for this. Our short little thumbs won't even reach the pads. At least not as long as we keep the dream of reaching the bumpers and triggers alive.

I'll never understand why size is completely overlooked when making controllers. Everyone argues about what's the most comfortable controller, everyone oblivious to the fact that it's like arguing about what's the most comfortable shoe, only taking ONE size into the argument. FYI, size 6 Vibram Toe Shoes, the best.

If I was a female gamer, I'd be really bummed about this. Completely neglected by anyone but Nintendo for ages and ages. And, I guess in Nintendo's case, it's more that they're catering to kids as well. Which, again.. Makes the whole thing even crazier.. Kids and females, screw those guys. The only gamers who actually matter are dudebros and average or larger dudes in general.

Easier to add extenders and shells or whatnot to a small gamepad so it'll fit your large hand than it is to grind a large joypad into a smaller one by means of a Dremmel.. You know?
Ergonomics.. No one gives a fuck until their wrists go out and they're limited to 30 minutes of gaming a day. Myself included.

#38 Posted by BasketSnake (1169 posts) -

This is super exciting. Valve wouldn't release something like this if they weren't confident about it. I want to try it. Maybe it's shit. Who knows?

#39 Edited by HurricaneIvan29 (568 posts) -

@butano: fighting games would benefit for special movement input for combo specials

#40 Posted by Budwyzer (547 posts) -

I thought one of the major points of this controller was to have more buttons on the fingertip side, thus allowing the user to press buttons while keeping their thumbs on the trackpads.

Like the Avenger Controller

#41 Edited by RonGalaxy (2910 posts) -

Not gonna lie, I don't have a lot of optimism for this controller. It will be an equal alternative to analog stick controllers at best. Definitely wont be better, and might actually be worse for a lot of games. Thats just my uninformed impression of me imagining using this thing, so dont take my word for it. Im usually good at gauging these things for myself though. I know other people will probably swear by it as being superior.

I guess it's cool that they are taking the risk on it though. Not enough of that going on in video games nowadays.

#42 Posted by RonGalaxy (2910 posts) -

@budwyzer said:

I thought one of the major points of this controller was to have more buttons on the fingertip side, thus allowing the user to press buttons while keeping their thumbs on the trackpads.

Like the Avenger Controller

The way they are talking about it, the pads are meant to be utilized with the tips of your thumbs (as opposed to the bottom of the first digit when using an analog stick controller), meaning it would be pretty impossible to do what you're saying eitherway. Like, they actually work worse if you arent using the tips of your thumbs (according to tested.com)