Robin Walker has been with Valve a long time, having helped it create some of its biggest successes in the form of Team Fortress Classic and eventually Team Fortress 2 and DotA 2. But just because he’s helped pump up its game library doesn’t mean he can’t talk a good game for its hardware too.
With the impending release of Valve’s new Steam Controller, Walker was on hand at PAX Prime 2015 to talk it through with various people, like YouTuber OMGchad, who had the pleasure of a personal walk through of the gamepad with the man himself.
The Steam Controller, Walker said, was designed to solve the problem Valve has faced since massively expanding the Steam library: how do you make a controller that can play all games? It needs face buttons, triggers, traditional joystick controls, but also mouse-like functionality and the ability to type messages quickly. With that in mind, over many generations of prototypes, the Steam Controller was born.
Much like Walker’s work on Team Fortress 2 and its data-driven updates, Walker said Valve focused a lot on user feedback in the development of the current design, seeing specifically that players with regular gamepads often moved their thumb from the right analogue stick to reload or perform other important functions. To avoid that with the Steam controller, there are new rear-grip buttons which can take on those important tasks.
Going beyond the hardware though, a big part of the Steam Controller is remapping and rejigging certain functions on the device. That way, the game developers themselves can offer pre-built control schemes, and the community can offer their own takes on the idea too. If someone figures out it’s better to have a command mapped to another part of the controller, people can download that configuration and try it out, or create their own.
The Steam Controller will be available to everyone on November 10, priced at $50 and the pre-orders are available now on Steam.