A bump for those of you who don’t necessarily follow gaming news that closely:
A few days ago (at Steam Dev Days
, a no-journalists-allowed-but-tweets-welcome event, which will certainly add all sorts of interpretive fun for days to come
) they revealed that they’re dropping the touchscreen from the controller (at least from the “retail” version, if there will be more than one). This makes the design more down-to-Earth, though of course I’m sure this is disappointing for game designers. And by that, I mean probably just me; that is, I was kind of in the middle of
designing a game that was supposed to take some sicknasty advantage of the proposed design shown last year. Good thing I don’t have the test hardware
or a “let’s drop all obligations and just do this” work ethic
to have actually tried implementing anything yet!
(In case the news was all you wanted, it should be clear at this point that the rest of this post is a bit more self-centered than it is informative.)
This also lets them move the inner buttons, supposedly for better compatibility with existing controllers. The placement of these seems likely to confound exactly the sort of person they are doing this for, though: they moved them to roughly where the analog sticks are on a DualShock, making it look something like a Wii U Pro controller with the sticks replaced with touchpad. And with a D-pad doesn’t look like a D-pad. The ABXY buttons are no longer next to both touchpads for convenience, but rather on the right for conventionality (kind of a loss in theory, but I’m not sure many people will be mourning that). So... there are some voices on the Internet giving this new revision the thumbs up, but let not your heart be troubled, I am not one of them
Then again, the present design was still deemed a WIP, and they’re reportedly still processing feedback from beta testers. We’ll see. That huge negative space in the center is so unaesthetic it can’t possibly last.
I can certainly grant that the placement of the planned touchscreen was potentially awkward and it would have added cost to the hardware for what would probably turn out to be very little gain overall, but one of the rationales that was apparently given for removing the feature was that it distracted gamers by presenting a wrong screen to look at (fair enough; I hear that the Wii U seems to be getting some bad design in this vein), and that a “ghost mode”—displaying where on the touchpads you are holding—would be a sufficient substitute. That’s not the case here; even without display functionality, a third touchpad (as on the PS4, for instance) would go a long way towards replicating the touchscreen controls I’m now shelving, and would still maintain the infinite-possibilities/rare-hotkeys ideal they seemed to be envisioning before.
EDIT: Lars Doucet played with the one he got