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Steam is announcing something big!

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#121
Presea

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Though one thing comes to mind...

 

Wouldn't it be concerning that they wouldn't revise it beyond the second iteration?


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#122
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It's official, if I can't get into the beta, I'll be all necromonger on who does. "You get what you kill".


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#123
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http://tommyrefenes....team-controller
 
an interesting testimonial:


My time with the Steam Controller

When I started Super Meat Boy, I knew that proper controls would be the make or break for the game. I’m very picky about controls in games, to the point if the game doesn’t control well, I don’t care who makes it or what it is, I will stop playing it. I often get asked which formulas I used for movement, friction, air physics, etc. in Super Meat Boy. Truth is, there are no formulas…it’s just a big huge hack. I spent two months on the controls for SMB to get them perfect. Everything from the weird “friction” that happens when you change directions in the air to the 200MS delay that happens when you’re on a wall and pull away is based on how it feels to me when I play it. None of these formulas are based on physics concepts, they are 100% based on feel.

When it comes to hardware I’m, again, very picky. We have a Razer controller that Shannon bought a while back that has strange buttons that click weird. I refuse to play with it. I hated playing the PS3 when it first came out because the SixAxis had no DualShock in them and were too light. I didn’t fully play any PS3 games until I bought a DualShock3 SixAxis controller. I didn’t even bother with the Ouya controller because if other people are reporting latency problems, I know for a fact I will experience them.

I need to press a button, feel good pressing it, and have it react accordingly on the screen. So, ladies and gentlemen… if I say I’m sensitive to controllers you will agree.

The Steam Controller (or whatever it’s officially called) is strange. Where your thumbs normally rest when holding a controller, there are just the two little circular track pads just like what you see in the pictures. In the center you have your A,B,X,Y buttons surrounding what I was told would be a touch screen display at some point. The touchpad / screen in the center of the controller wasn’t enabled so I can’t really speak on that. The A,B,X,Y buttons surrounding the touch screen seemed to be used more for your standard “Back” button configuration. Think of them not as A,B,X,Y but additional buttons that can perform some functionality. You obviously wouldn’t play a game with those buttons being your primary action buttons. You use the left and right circle pads as your primary inputs.

On top of the controller you have your standard Left/Right Bumpers and Left/Right Triggers, they work and feel as you would expect. On the back of the controller are two additional triggers that you can hit with your fingers naturally by just squeezing your hand but aren’t so sensitive that the act of holding the controller depresses the buttons.

The controller I held was a 3D printed functional prototype. It is thicker than an Xbox 360 controller at the base where the sides of the controller rest in your palms. The weight is about the same. I didn’t feel as if the controller was too heavy or too light. I did notice the bulk of the controller, but only as a differentiation from the PS3 controller I’ve been playing with recently (GTA5) and the 360 controller I use for PC gaming. The bulk didn’t bother me.

After becoming familiar with the controller I started to play Meat Boy. I played from muscle memory so the more advanced tactics were being used (wall slide, jump height curving, etc). At first I noticed significant lag, and thought to myself “Oh shit, I’m going to have to tell them that their controller is laggy and bad”. They told me the latency was very low so I figured it had to be the TV because without a low latency “Game Mode” most reflex driven games are totally unplayable. Sure enough, I got into the settings of the TV, turned on Game Mode, and the real play session began.

The configuration they had set up was simple enough. The left circle pad acted as the directional buttons, the right acted as a big giant jump button. The big problem with touch pads/ touch screens is you never know when you are actually over a button or pressing it. Valve has tried to rectify this by having some adjustable haptic feedback fire when you press one of the circle pads. Throughout my play session the haptic feedback helped with the problem, but wasn’t enough to solve it.

The circle pads were configured so that they could be touched to register input. Having input register without a firm, familiar press feels weird and the reason being is that it was set to both touch AND press. You could make Meat Boy move right by pressing on the pad, but he would also move when my thumb rested on the pad. This naturally didn’t happen often, but did happen enough to be noticeable. Once I pointed this out one of the engineers (I’m sorry for not remembering your name, I’m horrible with names…true story I constantly called my ex-girlfriend Jessica instead of Lindsay. Jessica is her sisters name. It was for no other reason than I’m terrible with remembering and saying names…I could describe your face and what you were wearing to a sketch artist and the cops would pick you up in like 2 minutes…that’s where my memory is allocated…) he went back to his desk and updated the firmware to only react on press. Once this happened the controller felt like a controller. Pressing directional buttons made sense and I felt a greater sense of control.

One drawback to undefined physical buttons is that your thumbs need tactile contact in order to accurately know what button you are pressing. As the engineers and I were talking about this, the idea of little nubs being on the controller that would be noticeable enough where your thumbs would find them, but not so abrasive that the circle pads couldn’t comfortably used in mouse / trackpad mode came about. They had been thought of prior to my being there, but weren’t on the controller I was using. I expressed that they needed to be put in. They might show up in some form after my feedback…so…you’re welcome Valve / Valve customers.

The button configuration worked fine for SMB, I was able to get to the Salt factory no problem. I was able to sequence break C.H.A.D. by getting the keys before he could do his attacks. I was even able to do the bandaid the super fast way in the second level of the hospital shown here (though I didn’t wait on the platform above the bandaid, I always fall straight through): http://www.youtube.c...snXRb_Es#t=1392

I was able to play Meat Boy the way Meat Boy can be played on an advanced level (and I’m rusty at it). The right circle button was the jump button and we had both Triggers mapped to the Run button just like a regular Xbox 360 controller. We also had the Run button mapped to the back trigger buttons I mentioned before that can be pressed with your fingers on the back of the pad. This worked great but did lead to a bit of hand cramping. I think this is due more to the way you use the run button in Meat Boy and not the design of the controller or the buttons.

But that’s Meat Boy, I wanted to see how it would do with a game where multiple inputs were required. Naturally, I requested Spelunky. Spelunky requires Whip, Jump, Bomb, and Rope buttons. We configured the controller to play like an Xbox controller. So the left circle pad was once again used for the directional buttons, and the right circle pad was used as A, B, X, Y buttons in the orientation that you find on an Xbox Controller.

I played through Spelunky and the controller worked great. As I was playing I was describing to the engineers the twitch movements that go into Spelunky. Anyone that’s played it knows what I’m talking about, but to explain further there are often times in Spelunky where you will find yourself in a situation where you will panic and need to compensate. For example, lets say you are jumping on a platform, below it are spikes, above you is a bat. If the bat hits you, you’ll die because you’ll fall into the spikes. If you try to jump on the bat, chances are you’ll hit the bat and fall and possibly die. So in situations like this you find yourself tap jumping with air compensation to whip a bat while still staying on this one tile platform. The Steam controller handled this just fine. The nubs I mentioned above would have solidified the platforming experience better, but again, those might get thrown in as they approach final hardware. I got to the Ice Caves and then a stupid Skeleton knocked me off a platform to my death…then I attempted a daily run and died immediately…pretty much the standard Spelunky play through.

If you were to ask me if I would play games with the Steam Controller…I would say yes. If you were to ask me to choose between Steam Controller and a 360 controller, I would choose 360. Don’t take that as slight to the controller though because it’s more about the comfort of familiarity over functionality. I would choose a 360 controller because I have several thousand hours experience using it, however if tomorrow all game controllers were wiped off the earth and the only option was the Steam Controller, I don’t think this would be a bad thing. In fact, I don’t think gaming would miss a beat. I’m excited to see what final hardware feels like because I think with the upcoming iterations of the controller we’ll see something that is different, but still feels good.

TL;DR; Great Start, needs some improvements, but I could play any game I wanted with it just fine.


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#124
Amarus

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That is an interesting read, and it's good to know that they're involving others in the alpha testing.

But I still want to see how they're expecting the controller to handle games that use the right stick and the 4 buttons. Something like Batman, DMC, etc.
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#125
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That's the thing I'm wondering, especially as those are the games I tend to use a controller on the most.

With no disrespect to SMB a game where you hold one trigger down constantly, press a direction and tap one button a lot isn't really something any controller should have trouble playing. Last time I played it I used my USB SNES pad. He mentioned trying another game for the twitch movements, but on the last couple of dark worlds in SMB it's all about twitching as well IMO.

I really wanted to like this, but I just wanted a nice, friendly, familiar, ergonomic controller. All the silly addition to the PS4 pads are the reason I'm staying away from them.

I love the idea of the Steam pad and I really hope that to me it's both comfortable and functional. You'll have to excuse my lack of excitement for the touchscreen built in, but I've bought many devices over the years with extra functionity like that - new and exciting, never before done...and I never end up using them. I guess I'm the 1% :P


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#126
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I signed up for the beta. We'll see what comes of it, but I'm liking what I've seen so far, especially the SteamOS. If it turns out to be what I'm hoping, then I won't need to use Windows anymore...


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#127
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I signed up for the beta. We'll see what comes of it, but I'm liking what I've seen so far, especially the SteamOS. If it turns out to be what I'm hoping, then I won't need to use Windows anymore...

To give up Windows you still need devs to support Linux and thats not going to happen for older games. So to play most of whats in your library right now you will still need a Windows machine to stream to your SteamOS box. 


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#128
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To give up Windows you still need devs to support Linux and thats not going to happen for older games. So to play most of whats in your library right now you will still need a Windows machine to stream to your SteamOS box. 

 

That's why I'm very 'meh' on Steam box itself. I prefer a lot of my older games over anything that comes out now, I honestly think it's going to be a long road until Steam boxes are in the places of PC's, rather than streaming the majority of content. I suppose for anyone new to PC gaming it could be a real grabber though, so they'll have those numbers on their side. Only time will tell, but I'm skeptical to say the least.

 

If they do get compatibility with everything eventually and it's a good enough OS that it's outperforming Windows in the exact same games and what not then yes I'll probably jump ship - until then WINDOWS4LYFE. :)


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#129
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Theoretically, Linux should out-perform Windows when playing the same games - assuming that they are both optimised for their respective platforms. As an OS, Linux leaves a heck of a lot more of spare system resources and tends to run much more efficiently.

 

It's not just theory, either.


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#130
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Theoretically, Linux should out-perform Windows when playing the same games - assuming that they are both optimized for their respective platforms. As an OS, Linux leaves a heck of a lot more of spare system resources and tends to run much more efficiently.

 

It's not just theory, either.

Don't you think that link is a wee bit biased? Not saying it isn't true, but I'd rather have testing from a third party that doesn't paint Windows 8 as the devil.

 

As far as OS resources go you can't just say Linux. Linux is a kernel like NT. If you are going to talk about system resources you really need compare distros to Windows. That said, SteamOS should have more resources available to games since it's a much more specialized OS than Windows. 


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#131
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Don't you think that link is a wee bit biased? Not saying it isn't true, but I'd rather have testing from a third party that doesn't paint Windows 8 as the devil.

 

As far as OS resources go you can't just say Linux. Linux is a kernel like NT. If you are going to talk about system resources you really need compare distros to Windows. That said, SteamOS should have more resources available to games since it's a much more specialized OS than Windows. 

While you're right, I offer two facts in mitigation:

1) The test was against Windows 7, not 8

2) When I say that Linux uses fewer resources, I mean "An average Linux distro with a fully functional GDM et al". Averages + lazy writing = victory!


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#132
Amarus

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That's the thing I'm wondering, especially as those are the games I tend to use a controller on the most.

 

<snip>

 

After a good and lengthy gaming session (Tomb Raider), I can now imagine a possible solution:

using the two new back buttons as modifiers.

 

Want to switch weapons, hold the left back button and the left trackpad emulates a d-pad. Release and it goes back to being a movement stick. Want to move the camera, hold the right back button and right trackpad become a right stick, and so on.

 

However, I'm not entirely sure how comfortable that would actually be.


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#133
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After a good and lengthy gaming session (Tomb Raider), I can now imagine a possible solution:

using the two new back buttons as modifiers.

 

Want to switch weapons, hold the left back button and the left trackpad emulates a d-pad. Release and it goes back to being a movement stick. Want to move the camera, hold the right back button and right trackpad become a right stick, and so on.

 

However, I'm not entirely sure how comfortable that would actually be.

Interesting. I'm very much looking forward to trying one after getting my hands on the Xbone and PS4 pads today.

 

A little off topic, but on that subject, the PS4 controller isn't actually as uncomfortable as it might look -  overall the ergonomics of the controller itself are not affected by the new addition to that weird move thing it still felt the same in my hands as the old Dualshock 1/2/3 except the triggers feel a lot more responsive, which (for me personally) was one of my biggest gripes with the DS3's.

 

The Xbox One pad..wow. I can't believe how impressed I was with it. The new form factor (despite being extremely similar to the 360's) actually felt a lot more comfortable to me. For once I wasn't actually annoyed with the sticks not being together as it honestly just felt so perfect in my hands. Everything to the plastic material used for the shell and the materials used for the analogue sticks just feels right.

 

The trigger rumble motors did make shooting in Battlefield 4 a little more enjoyable, but I can't honestly say I'll ever play any non-console exclusive shooters on a pad myself, so I don't think that's really a selling point for me.  The D-pad has been improved so much and is actually viable for things like beat 'em ups, which is always marks in my book (being one of the main reasons I have a controller hooked up to my PC.)

 

I really, really hope I prefer the Steam pad. But with both of those controllers feeling so nice and so familiar it's really going to be a tough choice for gamers everywhere IMO. 


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#134
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I actually enjoy the feel of the xbox 360 controller over the playstation ones.

 

Though I think my favorite controller overall is the Gamecube controller, tbh, the C-stick is the only thing that could be modified into a full thumbstick though.  I prefer the asymmetrical thumbsticks (xbox 360/1, gamecube), it feels more natural for some reason.  I really just don't like the placement of the left thumbstick in the PS controllers.


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#135
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Agree fully with the gamecube controller being the best, there's something that just...bugs me of the PS ones and the xbox...almost no one in Panama has one.

 

 

If I recall correctly from the announcement one would be able to play RTS with that controller?

 

That could work some wonders for my DOTA2 issues if proven correct.


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#136
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I actually enjoy the feel of the xbox 360 controller over the playstation ones.

 

Though I think my favorite controller overall is the Gamecube controller, tbh, the C-stick is the only thing that could be modified into a full thumbstick though.  I prefer the asymmetrical thumbsticks (xbox 360/1, gamecube), it feels more natural for some reason.  I really just don't like the placement of the left thumbstick in the PS controllers.

 

The GC controller was pretty good. The c-stick was pretty bad and I felt like the d-pad was way too resistant but the rest of it was comfortable.

 

Most people don't like the left thumbstick on the PS controllers because it's not the natural resting position. But it does look more symmetrical, which is aesthetically pleasing.

 

I wonder if the next gen will make something else top the 360 controller for me.

 

Agree fully with the gamecube controller being the best, there's something that just...bugs me of the PS ones and the xbox...almost no one in Panama has one.

 

 

If I recall correctly from the announcement one would be able to play RTS with that controller?

 

That could work some wonders for my DOTA2 issues if proven correct.

 

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#137
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#138
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Talk about some serious specs:

Hello from the Steam hardware bunker.

Thanks for joining the Steam Universe community group. As we get closer to shipping the prototype Steam Machines and controllers we talked about last week, we're going to be posting info here about what we're up to, and give you some insight into the work we’ve done to get to this point.

As we talked about last week, the Steam Machines available for sale next year will be made by a variety of companies. Some of those companies will be capable of meeting the demands of lots of Steam users very quickly, some will be more specialized and lower volume. The hardware specs of each of those machines will differ, in many cases substantially, from our prototype.

Valve didn't set out to create our own prototype hardware just for the sake of going it alone - we wanted to accomplish some specific design goals that in the past others weren't yet tackling. One of them was to combine high-end power with a living-room-friendly form factor. Another was to help us test living-room scenarios on a box that's as open as possible.

So for our own first prototype Steam Machine ( the one we're shipping to 300 Steam users ), we've chosen to build something special. The prototype machine is a high-end, high-performance box, built out of off-the-shelf PC parts. It is also fully upgradable, allowing any user to swap out the GPU, hard drive, CPU, even the motherboard if you really want to. Apart from the custom enclosure, anyone can go and build exactly the same machine by shopping for components and assembling it themselves. And we expect that at least a few people will do just that. (We'll also share the source CAD files for our enclosure, in case people want to replicate it as well.)

And to be clear, this design is not meant to serve the needs of all of the tens of millions of Steam users. It may, however, be the kind of machine that a significant percentage of Steam users would actually want to purchase - those who want plenty of performance in a high-end living room package. Many others would opt for machines that have been more carefully designed to cost less, or to be tiny, or super quiet, and there will be Steam Machines that fit those descriptions.

Here are the specifications for Valve's 300 prototypes.

The 300 prototype units will ship with the following components:
GPU: some units with NVidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660
CPU: some boxes with Intel i7-4770, some i5-4570, and some i3
RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB GDDR5 (GPU)
Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold
Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high

As a hardware platform, the Steam ecosystem will change over time, so any upgrades will be at each user's discretion. In the future we'll talk about how Steam will help customers understand the differences between machines, hardware strengths and weaknesses, and upgrade decisions.

We aren't quite ready to post a picture of our prototype - just because they're not finished enough. Before they ship we'll let you know what the prototype looks like. And we expect people to redesign the machine, too. Both from a technical perspective, deciding on different components, and from an industrial design perspective, changing the enclosure in interesting ways.

So high-powered SteamOS living room machines are nice, and fun to play with, and will make many Steam customers happy. But there are a lot of other Steam customers who already have perfectly great gaming hardware at home in the form of a powerful PC. The prototype we're talking about here is not meant to replace that. Many of those users would like to have a way to bridge the gap into the living room without giving up their existing hardware and without spending lots of money. We think that's a great goal, and we're working on ways to use our in-home streaming technology to accomplish it - we'll talk more about that in the future.

Stay tuned for some closer looks at the Steam Controller.

http://steamcommunit...128928746175450

 

Though I fail to see how this will change much (streaming tech aside).. I could do that too -> matx / mini itx boards with a pciex16 3.0 slot, at the very least + GPU of choice.  The hard part is having a case with the correct aesthetics, and that's where the steambox will come ahead.


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#139
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Basically I could dual-boot my current PC with SteamOS, hook it up to the HDTV, and bam - insta-Steambox.


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#140
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Basically I could dual-boot my current PC with SteamOS, hook it up to the HDTV, and bam - insta-Steambox.

 

Yup. I'm quite surprised by how many people seem to think that Valve are actually making consoles.







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