The Steam Controller is coming soon to the consumer market. I imagine we might get a taste of it at the CES 2014 event (hopefully). For now, though, those partaking in the 300 Steam Machine beta test are posting tutorials, guides and demonstration videos showcasing different aspects of Valve's living room entertainment solution.
Jimo has been posting up some very useful information on his blog, mostly centered around testing the Steam Machine, its controller and the functionality within games. We get to see the controller layout and how it's setup for Defense of the Ancients 2 with the video above... but for those wanting to see how the controller works in a real-time, active battle environment, Jimo also provided a near-20 minute video of the controller in action, protecting his base and taking down enemies in the meantime.
The video is pretty long but it at least gives users a view of how well the controller handles mob controller, item management, skill sets and intense battles.
I do have to make a few notes about the use of the controller in the video: First up, I notice that there does seem to be a bit of a imprecision there – I would mostly say that Jimo manages to keep things precise based on slow and steady movements, or rather, paced and timely movements. We don't see fast mouse-jerking type activity from the controller, as the sensitivity seems to be aimed at providing seamless cursor movement.
It also appears as if the cursor – when used by the controller – has a sort of mouse-smoothing effect in play. I do wonder if the controller is configurable to scale for players looking for more of a “snap” reaction from the thumb pads as opposed to the smooth-floating reaction as showcased in the video above.
Jimo also addresses this very noticeable thing in his blog, stating...
“In the video you’ll be able to tell that I struggled to react quickly to certain situations and I also made a fair number of newbie mistakes. I believe most of my struggles come down to the fact that I’m still relatively new to the Steam Controller, and making the jump from a mouse and keyboard is difficult at first.”
That perfectly describes how the gameplay and the cursor movement came across in the video. I would really like to see how someone comfortable with the controller's capabilities playing at a higher level of difficulty and with a greater range of precision execution tasks at hand. Still, I kind of like what I see and I'm still convinced it's a controller I would like to own for certain games. Hopefully the sensitivity and deadzone configurations will allow the controller to properly emulate a mouse to a 1:1 ratio.