Valve Testing Impressions

Original author: Stephen Totilo
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Game developers who tried a new unusual controller from Valve called it promising, although quite different from the usual ones.

“We went to Valve this week and only tested it a little, and yet the increase in responsiveness is immediately noticeable,” said John Clark, vice president of digital distribution at Sega in the US and Europe.

Clark is only one of the creators of games from large and small studios who visited Half-Life, DOTA 2, and Steam at home and experienced the third part of the Valve announcement, which consisted of SteamOS, Steam Machine, and Steam Controller. All three parts will be combined to play in the living room, where they and the PC gaming library will clash with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

The key to everything, of course, is the controller, and since Valve says that it can be modified, it most likely has characteristics that separate it from the keyboard mouse and traditional Xbox 360 controllers. The sticks have been replaced with circular trackpads equipped with vibration motors for tactile feedback; traditional AXBY buttons are moved to the center of the controller, surrounding a small touchscreen. Beta versions, as in the picture above, replace the touchscreen with temporary buttons.

Clark and his colleague, Jürgen Post, CEO and President of Sega Europe, have been stuck at Valve for several days with Sega's development teams from Relic and Creative Assembly.

Jürgen is testing the controller

The indie developer Ichiro Lambe from Dejobaan Games also tested the controller and tried to explain what it looked like: “It's hard to understand what kind of feedback it is until you try it - take it in your hands and for the first minutes you simply slide your fingers along the trackpads, marveling at the sensations” .

Lambe played FPS with a new gadget. It seems that the tactile feedback left a strong impression; the idea is to create a sense of the edges of the trackpad, buttons, depending on the game. Trackpads are sensitive to movement and pressure.

“It sounds strange, but it most resembles two heavy trackballs that are too large to fit into the controller,” Lambe went on to explain, “When you move your finger, you feel like you are moving a physical element. If you move your finger quickly, an imaginary trackball will react as something significant, continuing to spin for some time by inertia, and since this is controlled by software, the same trackpad becomes more like a mouse or laptop trackpad when moving through the menu. Dynamics!"

In a similar way, Jamie Cheng from Klei spoke about the return, a colleague of whom also tried the controller in business. "He told us that the feedback was supernatural, and the trackpad really looked like buttons."

Ichiro Lambe: “The controller is familiar enough to be able to use it (for sure, they tried less familiar designs before returning to the traditional form factor), but much more accurately than, say, a WASD + mouse. This controller makes FPS more convenient on the gamepad and transfers other genres where precise mouse control is needed to the living room. "

And if Lambe is a good tester in terms of first-person games, Team Meat's Tommy Refenes is ideal for evaluating the responsiveness of the new controller in classic 2D games. He played Spelunky and his own Super Meat Boy. In his blog, he described the experience, summing up: “TL; DR; great start, some improvements are needed, but playing any game that I wanted was very convenient. "

The whole post of Refens is worth reading: it not only describes the sensations from the controller, but also describes the attitude towards it in Valve. Engineers are ready to make changes on the fly, adjusting the controller to beta.

About handling in games, Refenes writes:
Я мог играть в Meat Boy на продвинутом уровне. Правая круглая кнопка была кнопкой прыжка, а оба триггера отвечали за бег, как и на обычном геймпаде от Xbox 360. Это работало отлично, но пальцы несколько сводило, скорее, из-за Meat Boy, чем из-за дизайна контроллера.
Spelunky необходимы кнопки Хлыста, Прыжка, Бомбы и Верёвки. Мы настроили контроллер, как геймпад Xbox, таким образом, левый трекпад снова отвечал за передвижение, а правый использовался как кнопки A, B, X, Y в том же положении, как и на геймпаде Xbox… Я играл в Spelunky, и контроллер проявил себя просто отлично.

Referees said he still prefers the Xbox 360 controller, just out of habit, but he could play on the Steam controller. Lambe also expressed warmth for the familiar: "There is something special about moving a physical stick and pushing a button."

A Valve spokesman said other developers also tested the controller, including Paradox Interactive and IO Interactive. A variety of developers shows that Valve expects flexibility from its new controller.

Jürgen Post: “We would really like to see how developers are experimenting with RTS. Games like Company of Heroes 2 and Rome II are the basis of Sega and, of course, they can most likely be attributed to games for the mouse and keyboard. I myself wonder how these games will work with the controller. "