Hardware Steam Controller

Steam Controller

Table of Contents
#Genre (link: content) Name (link: blog post)Ord.
1MOBA League of Legends1st
-Part II- 13th
2aAction-Adventure Prince of Persia2nd
-Part II- 12th
2bAdventure Game Lifeless Planet3rd
3Beat-em Up Fist of Jesus4th
4Racing Game Race the Sun5th
5Puzzle Platformer Trine 26th
6Twin-Stick Shooter Waves 7th
7Platformer Dustforce8th
8Point-and-Click Adv. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis9th
-Part II- 11th
9First-Person Shooter Left 4 Dead 2 10th
10Side-Scrolling Shooter Blast Em! 14th
11Adventure Game Grim Fandango Remastered15th

Contents (top-to-bottom, left-to-right): Quick install manual (partially showing at top), two AA batteries, optional dongle base, optional USB cable, (wireless) dongle, Steam Controller, Steam Controller Product Guide.
Relevant Links:
Steam Controller (Steam Support)
Steam Controller (Reddit.com)
Steam Controller (Steam Discussions)

First Impressions:
I liked the feel of the Steam Controller out of the box. This was good, because I read reviews where people were talking about how they disliked the feel of it. It was slightly top heavy at first, but I quickly adapted and would have no complaints regarding the weight and balance.

After I installed the batteries, plugged in the dongle, and opened up Steam Big Picture, I let Steam install an update to the firmware. For personalizing the controller, I went through the options, but I ultimately decided to keep all the default settings.

It was now time to test the controller out with some games. For whatever reason, I decided to first try my hand at applying the Steam Controller to a MOBA: League of Legends. Of all the possible places to start...

TriggerLeft Trigger (LT)Right Trigger (RT)
BumperLeft Bumper (LB)Right Bumper (RB)
GripLeft Grip (LG)Right Grip (RG)
PadLeft Track Pad (LP)Right Track Pad (RP)
◁ and ▷Select (◁)Start (▷)
AS/ABXYAnalog Stick (AS)Button Pad (ABXY)

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Trial 1 MOBA (League of Legends):
Loading up League of Legends (non-Steam app), I tried to enter the password using the Steam keyboard. Unfortunately, the password is quite complicated (I even get it wrong when I type it out on a regular keyboard) and the attempt was futile.

Loaded: 'league Controller' by Thaisip
Adjustment: First modification was to change 'CTRL' to 'SHIFT'. This allowed me to level up my spells.
Tip: I didn't know it at the time, but it's possible to configure the controller without running the game. Since League of Legends is a non-Steam app, go to 'Manage Shortcut' -> 'Configure Controller.' For Steam games, go to 'Manage Game' -> 'Configure Controller.' [20160109] There is, however, a caveat for Steam games which don't support the Steam overlay.
Jump to Trial 1 Revisited.

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Trial 2a Adventure Game (Prince of Persia):
Default: None
Game issue: The game refused to run.
Jump to Trial 2a Revisited.

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Trial 2b Adventure Game (Lifeless Planet):
Default: 'Gamepad with Camera Controls'
Steam Controller issue*: Pressing the Steam key on the controller to configure the controller and returning to the game results in the game losing track of the controller.
*See fix below.
Steam Controller issue: [20160108 Edit] The game seems to be using the 'Desktop Configuration.'

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Trial 3 Beat-em Up (Fist of Jesus):
Default: None
Steam Controller issue: I was getting the same error as from Trial 2b: The game fails to detect the controller after pressing the Steam key. Searching for answers, I read the following:
1) Github thread: Steam Controller stops working inside games #4183
2) Steam thread: Steam Controller known issues and platform-specific notes [PINNED]

Steam Controller issue fix: I managed to fix the issue by doing the following:
Simple Debugging!!!
1) Turn off Steam Controller
2) Turn off Steam
3) Start Steam
4) Start Steam Controller

Loaded: 'Keyboard (WASD) and Mouse' template
Comment: Good for main functionality:
A) 1, 2, 3 can be found on the 'Left Touchpad'
B) Movement with 'AS'
C) Attack = 'Keyboard Spacebar' = 'A'
D) Mouse control on menu screen using 'RP'
Adjustment: Made the following additions:
E) Launch a fish = 'Keyboard X' -> 'B'
F) Change character = 'Keyboard Right Shift' -> 'X'
G) Equip weapon = 'Keyboard Right Alt' -> 'Y'

Works perfectly!

Personal config: Uploaded my first set of bindings to the community: 'Fist of Jesus' by Poor Tiny Tim

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Trial 4 Racing Game (Race the Sun):
Default: 'Gamepad with Camera Controls'
Loaded: 'Viktri's Gyro Assisted Settings' by Viktri Umrtvovacz
Comment: I initially had trouble navigating the menu screen, because I was holding the controller parallel to the ground. Apparently gyroscopic neutral is closer to being upright.
Comment: At first I didn't know where to configure the gyro settings, but eventually I learned that you click on the middle region below the controller. There are a lot of options, including what's considered neutral.

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Trial 5 Puzzle Platformer (Trine 2):
Default: 'Gamepad with Camera Controls'
Loaded: 'Controller Configuration' by Warmaster
Loaded: 'Trine 2 Optimized Bindings' by penguin_korn
Comment: Required changing Trine 2 options to keyboard/mouse.
Personal config: Modified the settings and exported my config as 'Trine 2 Refined + Labeled' by Poor Tiny Tim. Having too much fun with tweaking the controller!

Personal config: Eventually I recognized a flaw in my previous configuration (at least with respect to my play style) and made a refinement which succeeded in fixing it. I exported this new config as 'Trine 2 Easy Switch' by Poor Tiny Tim.

Personal config: [20160110] This set of bindings is similar to 'Trine 2 Easy Switch' except switching is done entirely via the left pad.

Steam Controller issue: To end the night, I was ready to turn the Steam Controller off. But to be fancy, I wanted to do it without having Big Picture open.
Steam Controller issue fix:
0) Reddit thread: [PSA] Controller won't turn off via Steam button anymore? Read this.
1) Pressed 'Steam button' once: Steam console pops up.
2) Kept my controller still and held the 'Steam button' down. The controller turns off after four seconds.

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Trial 6 Twin-Stick Shooter (Waves):
Default: 'Gamepad with Camera Controls'
Personal config: There were no keyboard and mouse configs so I went ahead and made one. 'Keyboard and Mouse' by Poor Tiny Tim.
Comment: I mostly like using the Steam Controller's ability to imitate a keyboard and mouse over using it like a gamepad (I briefly tried using 'Latenter's Bindings' by bburky)

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Trial 7 Platformer (Dustforce DX):
Default: None
Loaded: 'capy's Dustforce Bindings' by capy
Steam Controller issue: The game wasn't detecting the controller.
Steam Controller issue fix: The simple debugging steps at Trial 3 solved the issue.
Comment: The bindings worked pretty well. However, I'm curious if the keyboard would have better response.
Comment: I tried playing around with the 'LP' settings, but ultimately I liked the analog stick more than any possible 'LP' setting - at least for Dustforce. Essentially the situation was either I use 'LP' with click - which was noisy - or 'LP' without click and lose out on precision.
Comment: I have yet to try using 'RG' for dash and 'RP' for jump.

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Trial 8 Point-and-Click Adventure (Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis):
Default: None
Steam Controller issue: [20160108 Edit] The game seems to be using the 'Desktop Configuration'
Game issue: 'Alt+Tab' causes the game to stop recognizing the keyboard.
Game issue fix: After tabbing back to the game, press 'Alt'.
Jump to Trial 8 Revisited.

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Trial 9 First-Person Shooter (Left 4 Dead 2):
Default: 'Controller Configuration' by Valve
Comment: Interesting, I learned about a feature called the 'Touch Menu.' This would be a useful feature for Trial 8, provided that Fate of Atlantis would even use the proper configuration (instead I believe it's just using the desktop configuration).
Adjustment: Remapped jump to the 'LG', crouch to the 'RG', and lowered the sensitivity (to the line).
Adjustment: Upped the sensitivity until about the halfway mark.
Adjustment: Modified the 'Touch Menu.' Among the changes, included the grenade.
Adjustment: Changed 'LB' to last weapon and moved previous weapon to 'A' and added next weapon to 'B'.
Comment: I started browsing through the configurations, and another config (HERO 01) also changed 'LB' to last weapon.

Comment: Steam updated (for the better) the way configurations are saved and uploaded. Before a configuration could be exported as private or public, where public would automatically publish the configuration. Now a configuration is automatically saved as a personal binding, but can overwrite current personal bindings. In addition, the user can also edit the name or description of a personal binding. Finally, any binding may be exported to personal/community/template, but Steam now requires an hour's worth of play before a personal binding may be published.

Personal config: With input from my friend Josh on what works well, I had v.1.0. Then I played around with the 'Touch Menu' to obtain v.1.5. Finally, I found places to put 'Vote Yes', 'Vote No', and 'Use microphone': 'L4D2 v.1.6' by Poor Tiny Tim.

Comment: Between v.1.5 and v.1.6 I learned that gyro mouse controls were already part of the default configuration. Apparently this was why the camera would sometimes move without explanation when Josh and I were testing the controller earlier today. In any case, I began familiarizing myself with the feature and mostly liked what it had to offer. The one situation, however, where I would have liked it off was when I was using the sniper scope.

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Jump to Trial 8
Trial 8 Revisited (Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis):
Steam Controller issue workaround: Change the Desktop Configuration to the desired settings.
Comment: While Fate of Atlantis is a Steam game and run from within Steam, Fate of Atlantis's behavior suggests that it might as well be launching on its own. Consequently, the workaround will not allow use of the 'Touch Menu'.
Steam Controller issue understood: A Steam thread: Steam Controller reverting to Desktop Configuration for certain games explains the problem as follows: "Steam only applies the controller configuration if the game supports the overlay." The OP also used the same workaround I described above.

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Jump to Trial 2a
Trial 2a Revisited (Prince of Persia):
Game issue understood: The game runs when launched from the Steam Client (Beta). It does not run when launched from Big Picture. As such, it will not be able to run Steam Controller configurations.

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Jump to Trial 1
Trial 1 Revisited (League of Legends):
In League of Legends there are many essential actions which must be done with a press of a button. They include, but are not limited to, using a spell (QWER), leveling up a spell (modifier+QWER), using an item (extreme case need 1-7, get away with 1-4). These call for a sense of urgency. While using the Steam Controller is not ideal with respect to urgency, it is capable of implementing all the keys you would ever want to use. This is, of course, said with respect to the control configurations which I have tried thus far.

A.i) 'LP' set to 'Touch Menu' with 7 Buttons with Touch Release: (1) W (2) E (3) Q (4) right click (5) R (6) D (7) F
: After experimenting between Touch Release and On Click, I decided I like the response of Touch Release - I lose out on indicators which only appear when a keyboard key is held down. Use On Click if you want to keep indicators.
: The right click was added as a way to cancel one of the choices. Essentially Steam will execute the last hovered option when using Touch Release.
A.ii) 'LP' set to 'Touch Menu' with 9 Buttons: (1) Q (2) W (3) E (5) right click (6) R (7) D (9) F.

: This configuration is close to A.i and at times I liked it more. However, I ultimately felt the precision required to hit W would not be feasible in urgent situations. A.i assigns broader regions to each key and will be easier to manage in tense situations.

B.i) 'RP' set to 'Mouse Region' and click use set to 'space' for quick access to centering the camera on the champion.
B.ii) 'RP' set to 'Mouse'
: I briefly tested out using the right pad as 'Mouse' instead of 'Mouse Region' and 'Mouse Region' was definitely superior. That's because using the right pad as 'Mouse' requires remembering where the mouse cursor is. Using the right pad as 'Mouse Region' is more intuitive: center of the pad is the center of the screen, the far edges of the pad are the edges of the screen. Done and done.

C.i) 'AS' as arrow keys.
: Many configurations I see use the 'ABXY' buttons for QWER and 'LP' for 'Mouse Region,' but I decided to experiment with using the 'LP' to quickly access both QWER and DF.
: One reason I like this setup is that it places QWER in an ordering which more closely matches their order on a keyboard.

: Another reason I like this setup is that it gathers QWER and DF together in one place.
: Finally, I like having the analog stick opposite from the 'Mouse Region' so that I can move the camera and cursor in tandem.
C.ii) 'Gyro' as arrow keys.
: If necessary, it may be reasonable to add the arrow keys to the controller's gyros after removing them from the analog stick
: For the most part I found adjusting the camera with the gyro too imprecise.

D.i) 'LP' with modifier set to 'Touch Menu' with 7 Buttons for item usage.
: This was the most obvious way to ensure access all 7 items.
: However, it suffers from requiring a modifier key and fails the urgency requirement.
D.ii) 'LP' with modifier set to 'Touch Menu' with 9/12/16 Buttons for item usage.
: Suffers the same problem as C.i but it was interesting to play around with different ways to arrange the keys.
D.iii) 'AS' as 1234: (L) 1 (U) 2 (R) 3 (D) 4.
: Due to the need for urgency, I traded the additional camera control with limited item usage (sufficient for most champions).

I briefly tried switching the roles of 'RP' and 'LP.'
: The goal of this was to better serve the natural movement of the thumb which seems to like swiping away from the hand (though it may in fact be the opposite). As it was, Q required my left thumb to pull towards the hand. As such, I figured I move QWER over to the right hand. Unfortunately, the left hand was not really accustomed to handling the cursor.

League of Legends
Trig (full)Lt. Mouse (click)A (attack-move)
Trig (soft)Rt. Mouse (move)
BumperLt. Ctrl*B (recall)
GripLt. Alt (self-cast)S (stop)
◁ and ▷Tab (scoreboard)P (shop)
AS/ABXYD.iii(level spells)
*If I were to push this configuration further, I'd let 'LB' serve as a modifier button. Or let 'LG' be a modifier button and move Left Alt to 'LB.'

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Trial 10 (Blast Em!):
Today I booted up a shooter which only supported the mouse as input. As such, this was an ideal opportunity to play around with the Steam Controller.

At first, I attempted to use the default 'RP' as mouse and this was pretty good, but not satisfactory. I then tried using the 'AS' as mouse, but that didn't seem possible (read as bugged/glitched/doesn't work). So then I moved on to setting the 'LP' as mouse in addition to 'RP' and tweaked their sensitivity: 'RP' with a higher than average sensitivity and 'LP' with what ended up being the average sensitivity. This worked pretty well, but then I decided to throw the gyro into the mix.

Note that before today, the gyro lacked the option to 'Invert Vertical Axis,' something that I complained about in my head but forgot to note above. In any case, I was happy to see that Valve has since added the option in controller configuration.

Among the various experiments, I tried using my index finger on the 'RP' as if it were the touchpad on my laptop. For the time being, however, I felt more comfortable using my thumb.

Then, since the game only required movement, I played around with using just the gyroscope, but the precision failed to match that of the 'RP' (let alone that of a mouse). During this time, I noticed that the user has the option to turn using the yaw or roll of the controller.*

Finally, I entertained the idea of configuring the controller so that I could hold it a bit like a gun, right grip in my right hand and the center supported by my left. Unfortunately, the options were limited and this was not possible. In order for this to happen, I would need to set mouse up/down to the controller's yaw (as opposed to pitch). As mentioned in the previous paragraph, it's already possible to set mouse left/right to the controller's roll.

Conclusion: Equivalent to a touchpad, and like a touchpad, not as good as a mouse. It is, however, important to remember that the Steam Controller's goal is not to replace a keyboard and/or mouse. It is to help make gaming in the living room viable for games that don't natively support a gamepad.

*The yaw would be using the controller like a steering wheel, while the roll would be raising the entire left or right side. If one were to imagine an x-axis down the middle, y-axis from handle to handle, and z-axis perpendicular to those two, then yaw would be rotation about the z-axis and roll would be rotation about the y-axis. For reference, pitch would be rotation about the x-axis.

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While I've become quite familiar with the Steam Controller and I've used it for many games, today I had a nearly trivial but noteworthy use of it:
Prior to using the Steam Controller, I started playing the game using my laptop's touchpad. After going into the menu screen, I saw that the game supported gamepads and eventually switched to using one (the Steam Controller with the default gamepad configuration). Then, because I liked the occasional functionality of the mouse, I [...]

To Be Continued...

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