Valve shows Steam controller working with real-time strategy

New video demonstrates dual touch-pads working with a variety of game genres

Valve has released a video showing its touch-pad controller working with a variety of games, including genres typically played with a mouse and keyboard.

The video uses Portal 2, Civilization 5, Counter Strike Go and Papers Please to demonstrate the flexibility of the controller's "totally configurable" touch-pad inputs.

In Papers Please, for example, both pads are mapped to the mouse, allowing for rapid and accurate movement around the screen. In Portal 2, the left pad is mapped to the classed WASD movement keys, while the right allows for one-to-one manipulation of viewpoint.

"It's important to distinguish a joystick, which does a relative or velocity based movement, and this one-to-one mode, where you can move your thumb a fixed amount of distance and the view will correspond that fixed amount of distance," Jeff Bellinghausen, the video's narrator, states.

The full video is below.

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Latest comments (16)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
This has huge potential.
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Antony Carter Senior Programmer, Epic Games4 years ago
Still want to try this, but that kind of looked like it would be the same as using a laptop touch pad to aim with.
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@Bruce, I'm with you, if they can pull it off ...
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Show all comments (16)
Christophe Danguien games developer 4 years ago
@Anthony, I am with you here. The guy takes ages to aim at a head on CS, on servers or competition, he'd be dead before his cursor is on the head.

More over, the guy probably trained a lot to master the controller. It would have been more interesting to see a video of some one using it for the first time on different type of games and see the truthful reaction.
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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve4 years ago
It looks like it could be a bit cumbersome in strategy games. Civ 5 didn't look too bad because it's turn based, but for more faster paced strategy games like Company of Heroes, or perhaps at the peak of a battle in Rome II it seems like you'd be struggling to perform actions as fast as you'd need to remain effective. The other games looked quite smooth though.
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James Boulton Owner, Retro HQ Ltd4 years ago
With Anthony and Christophe here, it's a laptop style touch pad mouse interface. Touch pad interfaces are horrible for mouse control in comparison to a mouse. I'll give you that they are better than a joystick, but they are still a poor compared to the mouse.
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 4 years ago
The casual crowd will embrace this. The hardcore crowd will be running away.
there is potential yes but if it cannot reach equal footing regarding accuracy on a mouse for example then it will never become the de facto controller, even for the living room.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
The steady drip-drip-drip of information about this works mostly against Valve, I think. There's been no conclusive gameplay proof that this works better than a mouse in any situation, and whilst many people (myself included) think it's a wonderful design, better than a standard 360 pad, and could be on-a-par with mouse/keyboard, the negative reactions outweigh the positive. It's too different, too unknown. It requires a lot of faith to see the positives. Add this to the fact that some sites (including are very selective about covering the Steam Controller, and you have a confusing situation.

Note: By "selective" I mean that sites report on this video, but don't report on the Twitter posts by developers who have used the controller (the response of which has been overwhelmingly positive). See, for example, this:

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 14th October 2013 3:32pm

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Paul Ah-Thion Contract Programmer 4 years ago
Don't forget, this isn't just a controller with 2 touch pads - the important part is the haptic feedback built into those touch pads, and exactly how this feedback works is going to have a huge impact on their feel & usability. I really don't see how any of us can reasonably judge this controller without having physically tried one out, but based on posts by people who have, I'm optimistic.
BTW, it'd be nice to finally have a touch interface that actually uses the sense of touch :)
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Robert Ilott Build & CM Engineer, Criterion Games4 years ago
Lets also not forget that for those absolute needs, you can still use a mouse and keyboard....
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
It does not need to outperform mouse and keyboard. Anybody who headed down this road not just uses mouse and keyboard, but a specific mouse and a specific keyboard. A world where 2mm movements of the left hand equal 180 turns and keyboard response is measured in milliseconds. Compared to those minimalistic movements, every joypad is a pointlessly excessive as the ridiculous Minority Report gestures.

But as far as kicking back and playing the AI is concerned, the controller is onto something I think.
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Joshua Hagood Moderation Project Manager, Metaverse Mod Squad4 years ago
I'm having a hard time understanding where the Real-time strategy is in this post? I clicked to see a new video, since I watched the one with an FPS, Turn-based Strategy, and FPS when it came out last week, but I found the same video here.

Surely they're not calling Civ 5 a RTS...
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@Klaus: I see where you're coming from, but slightly disagree. When I play an FPS I much prefer using a mouse, as I find it more comfortable and flexible. I don't have to have a special laser honed mouse with 12 buttons, I just need something that makes interaction easy. I'm not going to compare with the controller, because it's hard to know without trying it, but the main difference I find between a mouse and touchpad is range of movement. Touchpads are generally small, so you have to use multiple strokes to do big movements (eg. a 180 degree spin), with a mouse on the other hand I have my entire desk so I can make it a nice continuous movement. It's so frustrating to have enemies hiding behind the edge of your touchpad.

Typically I don't customise the sensitivity of mouse controls. If I want a big movement I move my whole mouse arm. If want a small movement I just move my fingers. It's that range of control that joypads & touchpads struggle against. I think console gamers will have a much easier time of this, it's the rest of us who are so comfortable and familiar with our mice that will struggle to adjust.
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Anthony Chan4 years ago
This is a cool idea, and I am happy Valve is willing to challenge the "institution" of gaming with these ideas. However I am still skeptical of the how the market will take this in.

Who will be using this? If they are looking to develop this and market this to the traditional PC gamer (not the steam box), then many fanboys will laugh. The hardcore competitive FPS God will still tell you, "head shot" accuracy, and "Flash Gordon" 180 degree turns can only be achieved with WASD + a 5000 plus DPI mouse. I from experience have to agree, to the point I had to buy hardware that connected a mouse and KB (which isn't even optimal) to my console - simply because a controller just won't do. It has nothing to do with how well the hardware is programmed or even what Paul was saying about the haptic feedback, which are great features btw. It is more related to how our own hands work and the efficiencies of controlling direction using WASD in one hand (and the comfort of it) and the micro-movements of aiming and PoV in the other hand. Players of DOTA 2, SC2, LoL, etc. will all tell you the same thing - you CANNOT efficiently micro on a game controller.

If this marketed at the console crowd (with the intention in take a portion of the console pie), this implies that it might be packaged or sold with a Steam box. In that case, they are seriously jumping the gun here. Consoles have evolved in the past 3 decades, in the sense, the console is now supposed the more "cost efficient" way to play video games. When NES first came out, it was an expensive piece of hardware, even more pricey than a C64 or a build your own 286. But it seems the trend is now reversing - especially with this generation of consoles. Prices of new consoles have been at it lowest for launch (relatively), while the powerful PC gaming rigs are actually increasing in price (graphics and CPU). Valve feels like they are moving towards what Sony did with the PS3 - create ground breaking or revolutionary technology. However this sent Sony into the red for many years. Notice, Sony did not take the same risk with the PS4? Nintendo also placed bets on controller technology with it Wii U. We all know how that is going for Nintendo.

I really do hope Valve succeeds, but at the same time I can't help but feel a bit skeptical; we have seen events like this in the past and they almost always end up less rosy than we would have hoped.
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Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek4 years ago

It kind of has to outperform mouse&keyboard, or at least be an equivalent. Simply because you are using the controller to compete against mouse&keyboard users. Sure, for singleplayer games it doesn't matter so much, but most "platform-exclusive" PC titles are MP focused.
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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ4 years ago
I'm glad they're trying to evolve the controller right from the start, instead of making a "me too" controller, which basically hasn't changed much since the Playstation 1. Looks like they're got everything the standard dual-shock style has, with more potential and improvements. Good on 'em!
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