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Hello new hardware, goodbye Greenlight: Valve's spilling all its secrets at Steam Dev Days

Hayden Dingman | Jan. 17, 2014
Valve is many things, but "open" is not one of them. They're a hive of secrets. A hive maybe toiling away at Half-Life 3. Or Portal 3. Or Left 4 Dead 3. Or none of those!. Maybe Valve is working on nothing. We'd probably never know.

Valve is many things, but "open" is not one of them. They're a hive of secrets. A hive maybe toiling away at Half-Life 3. Or Portal 3. Or Left 4 Dead 3. Or none of those!. Maybe Valve is working on nothing. We'd probably never know.

But every year they host this event in Seattle called Steam Dev Days. Valve managing director Gabe Newell lets down his hair, the lights are dimmed, and he tells bedtime stories to a bunch of the industry's best developers wherein he spills all Valve's secrets.

All of them.

Or at least I assume that's how Steam Dev Days goes down. It's a "no press allowed" type of shindig, so I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of bedtime stories. Instead, I must rely on the help of tweeting developers and the amazing crew over at SteamDB.

Regardless, here are the secrets Valve spilled at 2014's Steam Dev Days, which is continuing through Thursday.

A new controller
Valve's original Steam Controller design, announced in September, prominently featured a touchscreen in the center of the device a la the Wii U. The touchscreen was supposedly Valve's answer to replicating the multitude of keys on a keyboard — the most important commands could be placed on the controller's actual hardware buttons, while less timely commands could be placed in some sort of list format on the touchscreen.

But Valve's prototype controller went out without the touchscreen — instead, it was simulated with four separate buttons — and now the original design shall never come to pass.

The new controller gets rid of the touchscreen entirely. It's replaced by "ghost mode." No, there's no need to rename your controller Casper. When you place your thumbs on the touchpads, you'll get an on-screen indication of what command each section is mapped to.

The new design also gets rid of the weird central placement for the ABXY buttons. Instead it'll have the more traditional diamond button placements associated with a D-pad and standard controller face buttons, arranged below the two touchpads.

Valve claims they are factoring in how the controller will be used with virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift, though there are no implementation details yet. It also will run on standard AA batteries, and up to sixteen Steam Controllers can be attached to a single Steam Machine — much higher than the traditional four for consoles.

And expect more changes before the end. Valve is treating its hardware beta very much like a real beta, taking feedback and iterating on it. Shocking.

A new player enters the field
Speaking of virtual reality, some tweets are floating around discussing Valve's own VR prototype and they're pretty crazy.

 

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