Here’s part one.
We didn’t expect to be writing a Part 2 so soon after the first chapter, considering Valve Time. But I suppose the pressures of the market affect everybody, particularly if they intend to compete directly with the big console makers.
If you haven’t read Valve’s press releases, you can find them here.
I split my gaming time between the Xbox 360 and the PC. I run linux, so these announcements are particularly exciting for me. I’ve been particularly underwhelmed by the Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo’s offerings of late, and was considering building a media pc to sit next to the TV rather than another console. I’ll wait to see if any of the official Steam Machines suit me, but even if they don’t, I’ll certainly give SteamOS a try.
I’m particularly interested in the controller. All of the recent ‘innovations’ in game controls have been gimmicky. The last real innovation that improved gameplay that I can think of would have to be adding analog joysticks to a gamepad, which I think Sony did first, at least among the mainstream manufacturers. Going wireless just introduced lag into the control stack, which altered the kinds of games we can play, and how we can play them– remember “Parappa the Rapper?” Not possible with modern consoles, mostly thanks to wireless controllers and flatscreen tvs. Move, Kinect, Wii, Guitar Hero– all of these interfaces turned out to be cheap and shallow, good for a few parlor tricks, or looking like an awkward goofball, and little else. Part of their failure is in sacrificing fidelity to meet a manufacturing price point. Hopefully we won’t see the same kinds of sacrifice with Valve’s new toy. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Valve is claiming a performance level on par with mouse-and-keyboard. That’s a bold claim, and I hope it pans out (FPSs with Mouse and Keyboard are hell on my tendonitis). But for now we wait. Hey, we’re used to that when it comes to Valve, right?