I grew up playing video games dating back to the late 1970′s. So the idea of a controller or joystick has always been firmly in my mind when it comes to playing a video game. It was not until I was introduced to games like Zork that it would even cross my mind that games could easily be played on a keyboard and then later on, a mouse. I have owned one or more game consoles from each generation. In the late 90′s, I really got in to pc gaming. Twitch based shooters like Quake and Unreal became a passion for me. I spent years playing Everquest and World of Warcraft, raiding, questing, and more. My ability to play games with either a controller or keyboard and mouse was interchangeable. But what happens when someone tries to combine the two concepts in to one?
Steam Machine beta testers were given a prototype model of the Steam Controller for use during the beta. I must state that before I begin as I mentioned in the previous article that anything can change in the final design. The biggest change in mine is the lack of a touchscreen in the middle. Instead, I have 4 buttons that can be mapped out for use in games. The second change is that I have to have the controller plugged in via a very long and generous reaching usb cable provided by Valve. That being said, the current weight of the controller often has me sitting it on a table or a desk upside just out of habit already. it feels like the weight is on the top of the controller versus the bottom. The final physical form might alleviate that but in its current state, it takes me a moment to get adjusted before I can resume a game or pick up and start playing.
Months ago, when the Steam Machine brand of computers were announced, I was curious about them. Running a new version of Linux dubbed Steam OS which is based off of Debian variant of Linux. Steam Machines and Steam OS go hand in hand with the brand new Steam Controller which sports an impressive number of buttons, quite possibly the largest number of them to date on any controller. So now combine all three and you might have what should feel like a new game console during a time when many consumers are watching the console war fought between heavyweights like the Xbox One and the Playstation 4.
Getting my hands on a Steam Machine was a stroke of luck. A beta test was held and I am one of three hundred testers in America who got one. This includes a prototype of Steam Controller which has 4 buttons instead of a touchpad, requires to be wired in, and quite possibly might weigh differently than the finished product. With this in mind, anything I might say about the controller is not concrete and subject to change. I will be testing the controller out in various settings and genres of games. This includes Steam Controller versus Steam Controller in some cases (coordinated with other testers).