Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
After showing off a rough design update to its Steam Controller at its annual Steam Dev Days conference back in January, Valve has decided, definitively it would appear, to strip the touch screen from the handheld and replace it with a logo-emblazoned home button alongside start and select buttons. And new to the latest prototype design is a protruding d-pad and X, Y, A, and B button layout similar to that of an Xbox controller.
The company showcased the changes on its blog Friday ahead of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week, where Valve will be showing off 10 hand-built iterations of the updated prototype for play testing.
The original Steam Controller concept contained a square touch screen with buttons surrounding the edges, while the prototype shown off last year relied on a four-pad touch interface in lieu of installing full-blown LCD screens. But Valve apparently took to heart user feedback and made some tough choices in simplifying the device to make it more in line with modern console controller design.
While looking considerably more polished than past prototypes, the Steam Controller is no longer such a far cry from fellow console game pads without its touch screen and with the addition of a d-pad and traditional button scheme. The insistence on a trackpad-like interface instead of thumbsticks, however, would still be the most radical aspect of it, and those don't look like they're going away anytime soon.
That said, Valve does not sound like it's finalized its design, and will be using GDC as an opportunity to continue cooking up some more tweaks.
But OTOH, the touch screen is gonzo.