Feeds

back to article Valve reiterates games hardware gambit

Valve has once more underlined its desire to enter the hardware market, "jumping in" to deal with a "lack of innovation" in the space. The company's plans were revealed through a job posting for an industrial designer, set to join the team to "create compelling user experiences" currently overlooked. "Valve is traditionally a …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Silver badge

Steam-powered console with Half Life 3 as an exclusive launch title, cross-platform with PC only. Let it be known, I called it here. ;-)

3
0
Joke

Steam powered console? Have they not heard of electricity?

11
0

Err, why don't they just buy OnLive then ?

0
1

What is lacking in the controller space

Mouse is pretty irreplaceable at the moment, nothing else comes close when you want a relative input method.

Things that need bringing into the mainstream:

1) A console controller with a trackball in it. If these were common, platform would be irrelevant, and we could maybe start to see console gamers and desktop gamers being able to play on the same servers. As it stands, this can be done technically but there is no point as the console players would be roflstomped.

2) An off-hand (ie left hand for right handed people) controller to compliment the mouse, to replace WSAD.

There are many of these on the market, but they all fail spectacularly on one major point - they do not easily allow analogue movement. What you need is something similar to existing designs such as the logitech G13, but the *whole assembly* is on a base that lets it slide in two axes (Ideally with the option of sprung and unsprung, at least for the y axis).

That way, you can have analogue movement, and use the 3 fingers you would normally have on WSAD for other functions. It would also be a lot easier for players not used to WSAD to pick up keyboard/mouse, as often with the keyboard part, users are looking down at the keyboard when they have to switch between say W and S.

1
0

Re: What is lacking in the controller space

You mean something like the 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator, Clive?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: What is lacking in the controller space

As it stands, this can be done technically but there is no point as the console players would be roflstomped.

It was done. The console players were roflstomped. They pretty much rage quit the trial immediately.

1
0
Joke

If there's any cake to be had

Indeed. The cake could quite possibly be a lie.

1
1

There is a reason that the mouse and keyboard have not changed much over the years, it's because the basic design of them is perfect for the function they do. If you change a keyboard to make it more relevant to gamers then you could take away from their primary function - typing.

If it's not broke, don't fix it, if it is broke, it was probably done to find out how it worked in the first place, then when you put it back together you found you had a screw left over that was only small so probably not important.....

2
0
Devil

Mouse basic design perfect?

Really? Personally I deplore the lack of accuracy of a mouse, and the pressure calluses on my wrist and elbow, plus the wrist pain I get from time to time. I may not be smart enough to think of something better, and even if I were I wouldn't be influential enough to persuade the world it wanted it too, but I sure hope that I don't end up using the damned things for the rest of my life.

0
1
Silver badge

Model M junkies universally agree: over time they've managed to break the keyboard by taking the tactile feedback out of it. Though that's hardly what the Steam guys are talking about.

As someone who almost never plays games I'd be quite annoyed if they optimised my keyboard or mouse/trackpad for that.

0
0

@JimC

Have you tried getting a mouse mat with a built in wrist rest? I've used one for years and never suffer from wrist strain even after a long session of FPS'in (I've had the same mousemat for, god, over 10 years now).

2
0

Speaking of Half Life

I thought this was fitting.

http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/376/708/60f.jpg

0
0

Whisper it quietly, but I never got used to using a mouse for gaming beyond Solitaire. Even Shufflepuck annoyed me.

Gamepad for me please. Finished Orange Box just fine with the 360 controller.

1
1
Joke

Philistine!

mouse and keyboard forever! ( for fps anyway ) i suppose you could get away with those horrible box controller things for a driving / flying game

1
0

Philistine!

mouse and keyboard forever! ( for fps anyway ) i suppose you could get away with those horrible box controller things for a driving / flying game

0
0
Gold badge

It's whatever you're used to.

I remember when ID games transitioned from keyboard only to keyboard/mouse being a "must have".

I cursed roundly when mousing became mandatory, being something of a dab hand with the KB and having ignored the mouse option as long as I could. Over time I became rather good at KB / mouse.

These days I still can't get my head round gamepads, but I suspect I could if I made the effort. I therefore do not think that any control system is definately "better", only different to the others. A given player may be better at one than another, but that's far more to do with practice and personal preference than the control system itself.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: It's whatever you're used to.

Mouse is generally better suited for anything involving looking and aiming. For those things it is genuinely better than thumbsticks, simply because of the response time involved in executing an action. Turning around can take several seconds, and fine aiming longer. With a mouse I can do it in a fraction of the time. (I play frequently on both kinds of controller.)

I wouldn't like to say that the console controllers are inherently less accurate, as I'm sure some people are daemons at aiming with them. For me, they are. I can aim to a much finer degree with a mouse, in much less time, with much smaller adjustments possible, and I find myself often cursing on console FPS games along the lines of "I wish I had a bloody mouse for this bit".

Plus, I can adjust the speed/resolution of my mouse via a couple of hardware buttons, letting me switch instantly between aiming types. That's useful in games like Killing Floor when I'm moving between my primary murder machine (say, a SCAR) and my secondary run-and-gun weapon (say, a shotgun). I can aim insanely accurately when the muties are at range, and when they get a bit cuddly I can switch weapons, jack the res and run for it.

Not that I game much. *Cough*

3
0

Re: It's whatever you're used to.

"It can take several seconds to turn around". Really? Ever looked in the options menu of a console game? In the vast majority of cases you should find some controller options. Alongside button assignments, Invert Y (ooops I'll just put the lid back on that box...) etc... you usually find separate sliders for the acceleration and sensitivity of the analogue sticks. Most games default these to somewhere in the middle, or even somewhere near the bottom of the range, all you need to do is whack em up and hey presto - nice and responsive "shooting people in the face" session ahoy. It does take a bit of practice, but then so does any other input method.

0
1
Thumb Up

Re: It's whatever you're used to.

I have always been a KB/Mouse and Joystick guy (having been born and bred on the old C64/Atari joysticks of old) but I can't get the hang of these modern console controllers, mainly because the whole thing is backwards for me. I want the D-Pad and Buttons swapped so they are on the opposite side to where they are now.

Also, the Analog sticks are just too small and sensitive for accurate control for me. Boat loads of overshoot!

Gimme a KB/Mouse and i'll run circles around a console gamer ( cos it's easier to control strafing ;) )

1
0
Silver badge

Re: It's whatever you're used to.

Really? Ever looked in the options menu of a console game?

No, being a PC gamer I never fiddle with options. (Where's the "rolling eyes" icon when you need it?)

I've tried messing with those settings, but if I make the joysticks fast enough to be anywhere near as responsive as a mouse when turning, then I find it even harder to aim properly, always overshooting the mark.

1
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Re: It's whatever you're used to.

Yeah, what you say is true - it is worth tweaking the settings. However, the trade off between, say, sniper accuracy and shotgun spin-around-and-shoot is often a deliberate design intent on the part of the game's creators.

---

There is something to be said for everyone using identical hardware in competition - as an analogy, I enjoy the Constructor's side of Formula 1, but would be interested in seeing all the drivers using identical cars for a few races.

1
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Mushroom

you'll never take my mouse and keyboard alive copper!!!

2
0
Silver badge
Big Brother

They're not even a game company anymore so much as DRM company. It's not surprising that they're moving to hardware in hopes of putting customers in tighter shackles.

1
4
Silver badge

Congratulations, that's the stupidest thing I've read on here in ages.

3
0

I'm more of a philistine.

I like keyboard plus touchpad. Then use cursors with the right hand and touchpad with left. Weapon selection and other things can then be done with the most appropriate hand.

Not that I'm any good at FPSs -- that may be telling but I am worse with a mouse.

0
0
Silver badge

Doesn't the wiimote count as innovation?

I appreciate that, a few notable examples aside, the types of game the console has attracted are unlikely to be much of an attraction for Steam's audience but the pointer plus nunchuck is preferred to mouse plus keyboard for some — you get the quick relative pointing capacity of a mouse but because you're actually pointing it at a screen it's one less abstraction from the game.

0
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Doesn't the wiimote count as innovation?

"but because you're actually pointing it at a screen it's one less abstraction from the game"

It also removes an abstraction layer between the player an a bad case of the cramps.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Doesn't the wiimote count as innovation?

It isn't that a wii controller isn't possible on a pc, the problem is that the games don't cater for it.

You need a hw/sw supplier to do both to help adoption, but what console maker is going to risk their margins by making a pc version which has the same controller has the lucrative console version? Why lose 30% on each game as people go for the pc version over the console version? Only someone with no vested interest in consoles would do that... hello Valve!

A couple of innovations I can think of. The original optical version of thunderbolt would be good. It may be expensive for a usb replacement, but if you can replace a console with your existing pc, then it pays for itself quickly. A DVI-optical-hdmi media bridge to allow long screen cables would allow pc graphics cards with multiple ports or multiple cards for dual/triple slot motherboards to easily drive relatively low-res tv screens for party games on multiple screens. Add a bluetooth system (common on laptops, but no so much on desktops) and your wii controller and off you go.

Keyboard & mouse are always going to rule FPS, but that isn't the only game in town. Even if a joystick is sub-optimal for flight sims and platform games compared to mouse & keyboard, a bluetooth joystick/gamepad in front of the telly could easily be a business winner for Valve.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Doesn't the wiimote count as innovation?

There's one thing missing on the Wiimote if you've ever played an FPS with it.

The remote is great as a pointer, but really in that case it's just doubling as a lightgun. The Nunchuk is a fantastic one-handed analogue joystick too. What doesn't work is pointing towards the edges of the screen to turn. Even with a mouse it's a hassle as you have to keep lifting it off the desk and moving it back to keep turning. And the worst thing about all these PC games is the assumption that you're sat up at a desk in the first place.

What the Wiimote really needs for FPS gaming is a left/right jog control under your thumb, which you can then use to look or strafe left/right, with the other assigned to the Nunchuk. Or even a flat sliding analogue nub-stick. The Wiimote is actually really badly designed when it comes to pressing anything other than the A+B button+trigger (apart from holding it horizontally like a gamepad, in which case anything other than 1+2 is painful).

To be honest, I'm amazed and very disappointed at the complete absence of any nunchuk-style controllers for the PC. Anyone who thinks the cursor key layout, or it's lateral translation WASD, is 'natural' for one-handed game control really needs to get out more. That's not what thumbs are for.

0
0
Boffin

Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

0
0
Silver badge

Mouse + Keyboard isn't always perfect...

...there's still certain types of games (mostly flying based) where a joystick + keyboard is desirable - not a farty little thumb stick, a proper one with buttons, triggers and hat switches mounted on the stick itself.

1
0
Silver badge

http://benheck.com/

I mention him because he has made several game controllers for physically impaired gamers- often Iraq War veterans who have lost an arm. In case you haven't heard of this guy, he does all sorts of console modifications, to a professional standard. Currently, his homepage shows a rather nice BBC-micro style case for a Raspberry Pi and a pinball machine project.

If any of you reckon you have a good HID concept that you want to prototype, you could do worse than to look over his site and contact him.

0
0

A Valve console is almost inevitable.

Valve will be shooting themselves in the foot with a very big BFG if they don't allow the option of keyboard/mouse input. Even if they don't supply the peripherals, add a couple of USB ports and support the USB HID protocol.

I said it ages ago but the writing's been on the wall for a while now, and it's getting clearer: Valve are gearing up for some sort of "console"-type device. Around the time the redesigned Steam UI launched, their future plans for the UI included a joypad-controlled "10 foot"-stlye UI; what possible reason could there be for this other than using it while sprawled on a sofa? Now those plans are concrete and this UI will be happening. Next Gabe Newell reveals that they are "interested" in hardware, and Valve start hiring up hardware people. Then we find out that Steam will definitely be coming to Linux (confirming the rumours following the launch of Steam on Mac), and that they've been working with companies such as Nvidia to improve the graphical performance of Source games under Linux.

I have no problem with the concept of a Steam/Valve console, none at all. Provided that it: runs on a full-fledged OS (a stripped-down Linux with a proper kernel is fine), has capable graphics hardware and good storage space, and still allows me to use a keyboard & mouse when I want to. If it's not a console or similar then I really want to know what they're up to.

Either way you can guarantee that it'll take ages to actually release anything - this *is* Valve after all!

0
0

'Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us'

Since when have Apple products EVER been open platform?!! it's all propriety, lock down, only if we say and like, opposite of 'open'.

0
1

I think they're referring to Mac OS X, which is far more "open" than the iOS world. Though they have shoehorned an App Store in to OS X, you can still install whatever applications you choose and tweak, hack and tinker to your heart's content.

Try actually using OS X before you judge it too harshly.

0
0
Boffin

Its Not What Your Used Too

its not a matter of getting used to one sytem over th othwer at all!

kdb+mouse is inherently easier and therefore better.

Any 10 year old whose never played an FPS game before could easily beat kim dotcom with a mouse if kim's using the mushrooms!

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.