Polygon was the first to post theirs
It all makes sense when you hold it in your hand, and the controller does some interesting things to emulate the use of a mouse and keyboard. In the demo I played, the right touch pad emulated a track ball, complete with a sense of momentum; you could flick your thumb over the pad and "feel" the effect of a rolling ball along with a sense of weight to the movement. You can bring up an overlay in Steam at any point and adjust what the buttons do, how they act, and the level of the haptic feedback.
It's fully configurable, which is part of the point; we were told that one of the features of the system was the ability to come up with a novel control scheme and then share it online so others can use your settings.
not really substantial though. I want to know more details and all, what games they tried etc
looking forward to the rest
spent roughly 10 minutes with the final Steam Controller at GDC 2015, playing snippets of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, The Talos Principle and Unreal Tournament on various Steam Machines. The body of the controller is wonderful to hold. Two long, clickable pads running along the backside of the handles, right where a player's middle and ring fingers lie, would be a welcome addition to any existing gamepad. Plus, the final controller adds a single analog stick on the left side. This makes the design more familiar overall, but with a trackpad replacing a second analog stick, the final Steam Controller remains what it always has been: awkward.
It's not that I want a second analog stick. I'm into the idea of trackpads and I think they could be an amazing addition to controllers going forward, if the kinks are worked out. It's the placement of the trackpads and the action buttons that makes Valve's final Steam Controller problematic. This could be an issue resolved by practice, practice, practice, re-training my fingers to move down rather than up and vice versa. Still, it's an odd design choice and an extra hurdle for players to overcome when picking up Valve's brand new hardware in November.
For any game that supports a gamepad, there's not much reason to use the Steam Controller instead of just plugging in an Xbox or PlayStation peripheral. The trackpad can give you more fine-grained control, but it's not an inherently better system, and the giant trackpads mean that your face buttons are stuck awkwardly at the bottom of the controller. I tried a few minutes of Shadow of Mordor, The Talos Principle, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and I'd rather have had a traditional controller for all of them.
Instead, its strength is in its versatility. Valve had precisely one non-controller game on display, and it was late-'90s shooter System Shock 2, which has a particularly weird mouse-and-keyboard interface; it's the kind of game where you equip a weapon by hitting one of a half-dozen hotkeys or physically dragging it onto your character. And, surprisingly, it was pretty decent. The right trackpad worked precisely as a mouse, and Valve has designed an impressively customizable control-mapping system; not only can you change the binding of any pad or button, you can control things like trackpad sensitivity, vibration intensity, and the inertia of a finger swipe. Valve will let you share custom binding systems, which solves a lot of the setup problems for any game with a substantive fan base.
Kotaku messing around with it: http://kotaku.com/up-close-with-valves-newest-steam-controller-1689513385
At first, I worried. I was handed it to play Talos Principle running on a mid-spec Steam Machine, via Steam OS, and my initial thought was: “Ooh, they’re close.” And then I asked if I could adjust the sensitivity.
It was immediately interesting to see that Steam OS overrode the game’s own input settings. Valve called up the controller’s settings, a lovely clean layout, dropdown menus alongside the buttons on a crisp illustration of the controller. On the controller, my right thumb sat on what’s essentially a clickable trackpad, and the sensitivity of this mouse-substitute was slightly boosted. Back into the game, and my mind changed. “Ooh, they’ve done it.”
Well, right-ish. What’s interesting about all of Valve’s efforts is that they’re doomed to never make anything that matches a mouse and a keyboard. The very best they can hope for is to get close. It’s about plotting a point on the line drawn between a classic console controller, and the office machinery that so mysteriously best suits our gaming needs. From a brief play, I’m not confident to plot that point, but I’m pretty sure it’s closer to a mouse than you might expect.
Which is why it's the triggers that leave me the most impressed. Not that they do anything new, but in how they replicate one of the best analogue triggers ever to have graced a controller - pull down on each of them, and after a well-judged amount of travel there's a little final click into place, a feature seen and then seemingly forgotten on Nintendo's ageing yet still brilliant GameCube pad. For a dyed-in-the-wool console gamer like myself, it's that kind of detail that makes me eagerly anticipate diving into Valve's new ecosystem.
The force feedback witnessed in console controllers is also enhanced - there are numerous possibilities, such as directional feedback on the left pad that corresponds with where you're taking damage from in a first person shooter, or the persistent chug of a machine gun being sent through your right thumb when you're pulling down on the trigger. Combined, they're the kind of forward-thinking innovations that were perhaps absent when Sony and Microsoft rolled out their own new generation of controllers to accompany their new hardware.
There are some reservations about the new controller, although some of that's down to how new and slightly alien it still feels in the hands. The face buttons are a bit too far of a stretch away from the right trackpad, and while the button layout is to all intents and purposes similar to that of other consoles - there are four face buttons and four shoulder buttons - the two additional buttons that can be found on the back of the pad where your ring finger grips add further wrinkles to a control standard that was already getting congested.
We demoed three games, all of which launched with WASD-and-mouse control schemes on PC: The Talos Principle, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and the new, in-development version of Unreal Tournament. In all three, Kyle and I still struggled to feel competent with the right-hand touchpad as a mouse replacement. We played against easiest-difficulty bots in the latter two games and could barely line up solid gunshots most of the time. It's one thing to say we'll "get used to it" after more time with the controller—the increased speed and "momentum roll" of swiping the touchpad seem like features that will really pay off for people who get used to the Steam Controller—but the bots we faced practically stood still most of the time, and we're not that bad at first-person shooters.
Weirdly, we were more annoyed with the controller's final ABXY buttons. I thought they were too small—that's my thumb right there—while Kyle complained about their placement where you'd expect to find a joystick on both Sony and Microsoft's pads. The buttons' general action, at least, felt smooth and easy enough.
The analog stick and the ABXY buttons are like training wheels. At one point during my demo of Unreal Tournament I complained how hard it was to get my thumb over to the ABXY buttons and then back on the right haptic pad. Valve flat-out told me, “We’ve found that the best control schemes don’t ever force you to take your hands off the pads.” Those buttons are an extraneous compromise to people like me (and maybe you) who are so entrenched in an ABXY culture that we don’t feel comfortable giving it up, even though the Steam Controller’s touchpads click in and thus somewhat emulate the ABXY buttons on their own.
Valve’s goal seems to be to trick you into taking advantage of the Steam Controller. By adding an analog stick and the ABXY buttons they’ve made it more palatable so you’ll check it out. And then once you’ve checked it out, you’ll (they’ll hope) realize the old control schemes are way less efficient.
It's so much better now. The final Steam Controller kept the weird touchpads (which let it emulate a surprisingly precise mouse), but also added a proper joystick, traditional face buttons and a lot of refinement. The "learning curve" I used as an excuse for the original prototype's awkwardness is severely diminished. Within mere minutes of using it, I was deftly using its touchpads to guide The Talos Principle's robotic protagonist through corridors. I dodged flak cannons in Unreal Tournament. I was comfortably performing precise motions I just couldn't get right on the earlier prototypes. It's quieter, too. I can still hear the engine humming which drives the Steam Controller's haptic feedback (a light ticking sensation that follows your thumbs across the touchpad), but it's no longer so loud that it's distracting.
There is still a learning curve, of course—the touchpads are uniquely alien compared to other game controllers—but they're no longer daunting or insurmountable. It reminds me of the first time I tried using a mouse to control a first-person shooter on the PC: it's more sensitive than I expected and I'm worried I'll lose control. I didn't back then. I don't think I will when the Steam Controller comes out, either.
Luke from Linus Tech Tips tried it at PAX: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTzGy_rUi9w
In short, the new Steam controller felt like a halfway point between a traditional controller and a mouse-and-keyboard setup, which is exactly what it needs to be. I still have some reservations (it feels a bit too light, non-touchpad feedback/rumble could be better, the overall shape and feel are still kinda awkard), but I'm glad Valve put the time in to make this thing so much better. I dig it. I'm not sure if the Steam controller will be for everyone, but for PC gamers following the migration path to the living room, it's at least promising.