The final announcement at the end of the week last week was the “Darth Vader Controller” as I like to call it which is going to be the official controller for the Steam machines, though I imagine it will function as a PC peripheral too for people who just run Steam on a regular PC, and the Steam machines as computers will probably support other peripherals too, and I’m being nice here. What I’m really thinking is something along the lines of if Valve wants SteamOS and Steam Machines to amount to anything they’d best preserve the openness and configurability of PC gaming setups. 😉
Hmm… Interesting design, but I think the deck is stacked against it. First, when it comes to symmetry and right/left-handedness, my generation of gamers among others who grew up with Nintendo-inspired gamepads will probably be far too used to D-pad left buttons right to really consider switching the two, though maybe some folks who’ve PC-gamed their whole lives with the option of a left-handed mouse setup will appreciate being able to flip everything around.
The other thing I’m concerned about are the touchpads. Tactile feedback from buttons actually being buttons is becoming a baby with bathwater situation these days. People are too quick to abandon buttons for things like virtual keyboards and stuff while recent history is showing that real buttons still have a place in the computing world. Touch-typing, for example, which lets me type these big blog entries without taking all day, (:-P) operates via tactile feedback with knowing where the homerow keys are so you can know where your hands are on the keyboard without having to look at it. At the other end of the spectrum, texting while driving…. :-\ Yeah. Don’t do it. 😦
This controller does have buttons, namely finger triggers and four buttons that look like they’d be great thumb-stretching exercise. I don’t know. Have the console FPSes done their damage here? Are twiddly thumbs no longer an asset when it comes to gaming? Instead it’s all about trigger fingers and what’ll probably be virtual buttons on one of the two touchpads on that controller.
We’ll just have to see what Valve does with this, as well as Steam machines and SteamOS. A lot of people are talking about these products like they’re already out, when in reality this was just an announcement and a lot could still change. 🙂