is the third and final announcement in Valve's promised
three-prong assault on the living room. They say their goal was to create "a new
kind of input technology," which has them proposing a haptic, dual-trackpad controller
they say is "driven by the player's thumbs" (what will they think of next?).
They also invite the community to get cracking on this when it is released,
saying it "was designed from the ground up to be hackable." Here are details on
the major new feature, the touchscreens:
In the center of the controller
is another touch-enabled surface, this one backed by a high-resolution screen.
This surface, too, is critical to achieving the controller’s primary goal -
supporting all games in the Steam catalog. The screen allows an infinite number
of discrete actions to be made available to the player, without requiring an
infinite number of physical buttons.
The whole screen itself is also clickable, like a large single button. So
actions are not invoked by a simple touch, they instead require a click. This
allows a player to touch the screen, browse available actions, and only then
commit to the one they want. Players can swipe through pages of actions in games
where that’s appropriate. When programmed by game developers using our API, the
touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info
like a map or use other custom input modes we haven’t thought of yet.
In order to avoid forcing players to divide their attention between screens, a
critical feature of the Steam Controller comes from its deep integration with
Steam. When a player touches the controller screen, its display is overlayed on
top of the game they’re playing, allowing the player to leave their attention
squarely on the action, where it belongs.