One thing to remember is, the prototype controller currently only works in Legacy Mode, meaning it emulates kb&m. There's no analogue emulation, no SC prompts, no specialized stuff with it. Left pad is WASD which you can cut up to 8 parts, the right pad is mouse for ex. The API for it has only been released to devs recently, so there's no specific implementation of that yet.
Also, these impressions are based on couple of minutes, if you're interested how the 300 beta testers have been faring with it so far, check out this thread which gets updated regurarly. Edit: Judging on how this thread turned out so far maybe you guys should really check that thread out before completely writing the controller off ;) Yes, it's not perfect, there are issues with it, some got used to it pretty well, some didn't, but it's not an irreversible flop. I even posted some samples here.
Now for the impressions, which are mostly focused on the controller:
Ars Technica: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/0...t-first-sight/
A full evaluation of the Steam Controller will obviously take much more than the few minutes I had with it tonight. Tonight's first impression, though, left me extremely conflicted, with each potential step forward in design matched by a seemingly equal step back.
So it's safe to say (?) CES hasn't worked out that well for Valve so far. They will have a huge mountain to climb in the upcoming months, that's for sure.
Sadly, the Steam Controller doesn’t give a particularly good first impression of what Valve is trying to accomplish with living room PC gaming, though that gateway could get better or worse from here as hardware manufacturers build their own variations on the pad. But at this early stage a console-style PC for an entertainment center feels like a noble ideal that could be marred by the accessibility barrier of the Steam Controller. After finally putting that strange thing to use, it appears to me that Valve built it more to make waves than to improve the gaming experience.
With half a year or more before the Steam Machines, SteamOS and Steam Controller are deemed fully market-ready, there is plenty of time for me to be wrong. But judging from my hands-on experience today, there is just as much cause to be skeptical.
Tested vid featuring Greg Coomer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6AnV0v9bs0
Kotaku imressions + interview with Claire Gottschalk (Valve): http://kotaku.com/how-valve-is-build...mes-1497334223
Basically, the ideal vision of Valve’s concave pectoral muscle of a device is brilliant, but the path to realizing it is fraught with perils. It does, in fact, feel like its own beast – a fusion of a keyboard/mouse and control pad, but with its own dimples and curves. Every once in a while, it all clicked for me, and I felt like I was hopping, shooting, and navigating menus with the best of both worlds. But at this point, there are countless kinks to work out. Valve told me a second iteration that addresses many of my concerns is already in the works, so we’ll see where that ends up. Let us hope it improves by leaps and bounds, not crawls and wobbles.
Polygon impression, video with Jeff Bellinghausen (Valve): http://www.polygon.com/2014/1/9/5290...valve-ces-2014 + Dota2: http://www.polygon.com/2014/1/8/5289...eam-controller
It's a funky piece of tech, and I get the sense that I'd need a few days to get used to it. In place of the expected thumbsticks, the Steam Controller has two touchpads that look like the world's smallest DJ turntables. The touchpads offer haptic feedback, so you can feel them rumbling and almost rolling under your thumbs. In use, the controller actually feels a bit more like a stationary trackball-mouse, rather than a traditional game controller or even a laptop trackpad.
Valve's new Steam Controller is unlike any other gamepad we've ever used. At first, it's kind of a clumsy, alien experience trying to come to grips with Valve's solution for bringing control of PC games to the living room. But after spending some time with the Steam Controller at CES, its unusual design starts to make sense and, soon, feel natural. And then, it clicks.
Few groups truly earn the benefit of the doubt, but Valve’s track record over the past five years or so is impeccable. I know some of the best minds in the industry are hard at work making sure that the Steam Controller is a monumental leap forward in how we interact with video games, and I can’t wait to get much more hands-on time with the input device in the upcoming months. But after 30 minutes with the controller, consider me a bit underwhelmed, slightly confused, but still cautiously optimistic.