Steam Controller, Auntie Knuckles and Inclusion

Yes, @Flitcraft, @austin_walker and @danielle, Steam Controller is actually good. Let me be more specific: Steam Controller is very good for almost all games for some people (me included), but it just doesn’t click for others.

I don’t want to sound like a salesman, so let me say two things. First, Steam client is free, you can add any non-Steam game to it (from Origin, Uplay, GOG,, etc.), and you can use almost any gamepad, not just actual Steam Controller that Valve makes.

Second, peripherals are important. Danielle can’t play keyboard and mouse games. There was already a thread about playing with one hand. You get the picture.

Okay, back to selling it to you :­) I’m not gonna go into nitty-gritty (but feel free to ask me about anything!), just couple of examples. So, what can you do almost for free (if you already have a gamepad)? Two things:

You can play a game that doesn’t support gamepads. That one is simple: you press “A” button, Steam looks at a config you created or downloaded, and sends “spacebar” to a game, so your character jumps.

Second one, customization, is way more interesting, but way more complicated, so, again, just a couple of examples. You can create Nintendo-like layout for face buttons (A and B, X and Y swapped). You can make button “stick”, so you can crouch until you un-crouch, or ride on Roach in “Witcher 3” and keep you right thumb free to control a camera. You can put any button anywhere, you can add more that one action to a button, you can “shift” some button to other actions while you holding specific button, you can make those weapon wheels for games that don’t have them, you can even make totally different layouts for different aspects of a game (“when on foot”, “in a car” and stuff like that). And since you not locked to just gamepad buttons, you can do global hotkeys. Some of them already built in (you can control your PC volume, for example), and you can add push-to-talk for voice chat client you are using, or control your media player.

With all that you can already see how that would be helpful if you have problems with your hands, right? I’m now in a middle of a “Final Fantasy IX” playthrough, where I hold DualShock 4 in one hand vertically. Cool, huh?

Speaking of DualShock 4, you can add it to Steam very easily and it’s better than other “use it on PC” alternatives. It has touchpad and gyroscope, but I’m gonna skip it, because they are basically same features as with Steam Controller.

OK, Steam Controller itself. It’s a familiar gamepad shape and functionality with touchpads like you have in your laptop or on your smartphone, plus gyroscope. Oh, and those “underbuttons” too. Pretty simple if you think about it like that. Again, not gonna go into details. Motion controls are not a gimmick, Nintendo kept them for Switch for a good reason: playing BotW and “Spla2n” with gyro aiming is awesome. Here you can have it with any game. And touchpad is just that, a touchpad. It’s way better for emulating mouse than a joystick, obviously. And more versatile: on top of what you can do with traditional controls, you can make a touch menu, that would be visible on a screen; you can add circular motion for a scroll-wheel-like functionality; or just use it as buttons that you don’t have to press, just touch; stuff like that.

It’s not without flaws, of course. You dealing with a new different device and a pretty complicated software. You can start simple here, just changing thing or two, but, still, it’s not as simple as plug-n-play of a Xbox 360/One-like gamepad. People write huge lists of what they want from a SC revision… I don’t. Personally, I think built quality is pretty good (I have mine since day one), and only problem I have – some buttons are very stiff and “crunchy” – I fixed myself with electric tape and piece of paper. But, yes, that’s a flaw. And, at the end, I would never recommend anyone buying something just because it seems cool, only when you have a problem to solve (I still do that, so “do as I say and not as I do” :). Playing PC games with a more comfortable device for you is a problem worth solving. PC + gamepad is as close to that one box that can play anything that Danielle wants, as we can reasonably get today (we have Xbox Play Anywhere and you can stream from PS4 and PS Now to PC, so you still need Nintendo machine or two).

Going back to what started it all. I never played PUBG with Steam Controller (it doesn’t run well on my PC, but I still want to try it when it more optimized), but I played, among others, new “Doom”, “Quake II”, “The Division”, “Payday 2” and “Last Man Standing” which is basically poor man’s PUBG. I played them at my skill level, so it didn’t improved my game, but headshots were there :­) So, you can do that. And, again, I’m not sure if it’s a right place for very technical stuff, but I’m willing to help anyone.

(Also, sorry for mistakes that I inevitably did. English is not my native language, and there is a lot of words here.)


The Steam Controller is ace. It’s taken over my Xbox pad as my default PC controller. It did take a while to get properly used to it, but once I buckled down and made the effort I really can’t imagine going back to the Xbox pad. I’m in love with those back paddles yo, there’s so much you can do with just 2 free buttons to fix little greivances with games. Completely nullified the souls’ series awkward jumping by setting the left one to Left Stick Click. Bliss. My only real gripe is that it can’t be charged, you have to switch the batteries or have it plugged if with a cord, but I get the technical reasons why so I can’t really complain.

For getting used to it, I’d reccomend replaying something you’ve already played with a controller, with it set up with as standard layout as possible. That’s what I did at least.


Yes! Also, I created Forward+Attack action for kicking :­)

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One of the coolest things I did with the Steam Controller was in Momodora 4.
If you hit jump and roll in the same frame you do a jump-roll. It’s super useful but super unreliable, so when I stumbled upon it just bound jump and roll to a single grip button so they triggered at the same time and spammed it all game long.

And I have a bunch of stories like that for all different games.
Playing Kentucky Route Zero I bound everything to the right side of the controller so i could play one handed while lying across my bed.

The Steam Controller is just cool.

the Steam controller is pretty cool in the depth of customization available. it’s also cool for playing more mouse focused games on a couch. I liked it a bunch for Metal Gear Solid 5.

unfortunately a lot of games designed with controller in mind are just plain easier to play with a dualshock or Xbox controller. especially anything that needs a dpad


I know some people prefer touchpad for, say, platformers and fighting games, ‘cause you just sliding your thumb. Most of the games I play use dpad for weapon selection and such, but I use left touchpad for movement instead of joystick for that same reason.

But beauty (and some confusion :­) of Steam Controller is that almost any gamepad is a Steam Controller, so we can use what we prefer. I wouldn’t recommend playing PUBG with two joysticks, but even that is doable.

There’s neat stuff about it, particularly the grip buttons since they’re incredibly ideal for assigning to the run button in games like Dark Souls, so you can run and manipulate the camera without having to do the crab hand thing. Concepts like that should be standardized across other controllers.

What I’m not convinced in though is the touchpad. Not because of its efficacy–it’s worked fine as far as camera control and aiming–but because it physically hurts for me to use. Rubbing my thumb against a flat pad with no real form of object manipulation causes it to slowly go numb, and increase in irritation as I continue playing.

I’ve had to permanently shelve the thing and switch to an xbone controller because of that. I really wish there was an SKU of the device that went for a more normal 2 joysticks + dpad setup, I would probably use it all the time if that were the case.

That’s an Xbox One Elite controller, standard Xbox setup with grip paddles. Steam lets you customise button layouts with any controller, so if you can fork up the cash for it Elite seems like your jam right now.

I’d like one but hoo boy 150 bones is a lot to drop on a controller. Really hoping the next gen of controllers start including grip paddles/buttons.

Gimme a real D-pad and the Steam Controller will be perfect, IMO. I just can’t work with using the left pad as one, it’s too big. But using the right pad as a mouselook while having an analog left stick and gamepad buttons? For games that support it that is amazing. Some get picky and don’t let you do both at once, and the “mouse-like joystick” setting is serviceable if not great.

Plus the batteries last forever. I’ve owned mine since launch and have had to change them twice.

@miscu, do you have haptics enabled and cranked up on the touchpad? I’ve found that helps with my perception of actually moving something physical around, I have no idea if it would help your issue.

I heard from some people that they were holding it wrong. It shaped differently. I’m not sure if that’s your problem, but try experimenting with position of your hands, don’t squeeze it, stuff like that.

Thing with “elite” controllers is that you not getting additional buttons. I own Razer Sabertooth (it was only $75 back then. Thanks, Microsoft), and it has 6 programmable buttons, which is cool, but you can’t add 6 more actions, you just mirroring 6 existing ones. Still, maybe a good solution for you, if you can find one on a cheap.

Also, there is ALL Controller, unproven but reasonably priced, at least during a Kickstartrer. I was thinking about one for Switch, but, sadly, it’s without gyro.

I love the steamcontroller, the touch menus are one of my favorite features I can’t imagine playing EU4, CK2 or Civ now without one. The only thing that I can’t get used to is to camera control with the right touch pad, maybe I should try the gyroscope or a mix, but is easier just to change to the xbox controller. Other than that is my main controller now.

I’ve tried enabling and disabling haptics on the touchpad, as well as both a flat position and angled straight position for my thumb. Either way, it still leads to the numbing sensation getting worse as I keep playing. It was really noticeable playing a game like The Talos Principle since I was spending a lot of time looking around the environment.

It’s absolutely a more precise aim than using a joystick, it’s the discomfort that kills it.

Sad to hear. My pinkies would get numb after couple of minutes of holding something without long grips, like 3DS or Vita. That sensation, if it is similar, is not a good one. I bought grips for them for that reason.

I just picked one of these up from GameStop (new) for $32.
This thing is bananas.

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I have one that’s been collecting dust. I like the concept but the problem for me is that:

  • If I want to play the type of game that would go well with a controller, like a platformer, I would rather use a regular controller. I dislike platformers, so whatever.
  • If I want to play the type of game that benefits from the direct targeting that’s possible with a Steam Controller or a mouse and keyboard, I’d rather use a mouse and keyboard.

I originally got it because I envisioned myself playing PC games on my TV. Then I upgraded my monitors and I lost any urge to do that :confused:

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Counterargument to kb&m:


But seriously, I feel like specifically keyboard control schemes are awful and stopped evolving and improving long time ago. “What, we have ‘map’, ‘log’, and ‘pause’? Just throw them on M, L, and P, let them stretch!” Not every game give you option to change that, and just rebinding is not enough anymore, imo. I would like Steam Software to work with regular keyboards and mice, that would be cool.

And, speaking of, Steam Software is still quite good with regular gamepads. I just played a bunch of games with Xbox One S controller, where I changed a little, but still changed something.

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My situation is that I love playing competitive first-persoon shooters on PC, but I’ve developed some sort of pain in my mouse-wrist. I switched to a trackball and started doing exercises, but it is psychologically difficult to suddenly not have high skill in a game I am used to having it in.
I think I’ve gotten reasonably skilled in Overwatch with the trackball, but when my wrist flares up from something like opening a door at work too frequently with the wrong hand, I have found myself defaulting to the Xbox-controller for comfort. That personal tendency suggests to me that it would be better to invest in developing my skills with a controller than with a trackball.
One cool thing about Overwatch is that the play styles can vary so widely due to character design. So for instance, I can still be as graceful as I intend with Symmetra or Roadhog (oddly).
but I miss being able to pull off ballet with Hanzo or Ana and so on. Titanfall 2 is especially difficult with an Xbox-controller for me also.
So I’m coming at this thing in order to eventually be able to play dexterous games comfortably with a higher skill-ceiling in mind. I was not prepared for how strange it initially feels and the stunning amount of potential it presents. I think I had heard that custom configurations were available, but I didn’t realize how much of a benefit that is until I plugged it in and tried to play as Lucio. After trying the default configuration, I sorted the custom configs folks have uploaded (for a non-Steam game mind you) by popularity and tried one out. The next match was a lot like the first, chaos mixed with familiarity. I realized then that there would be no magical configuration that was going to immediately transfer my controller and keyboard/mouse skills into this game I’ve played hundred of hours of, but I also started to hypothesize about the specifics of what was working and what was not. For instance, I can not jump with ‘A’ when I’m using the trackpad. I don’t know how I could jump with ‘A’ when I was using the right thumbstick on the Xbox-controller, but I could. So I went into the Big Picture menu and started looking around to edit this popular config. I switched the jump to the left grip (a new type of button where you basically squeeze the controller) and tried it out. It was clear to me immediately that this method of jumping is the most inntuitive method I’ve ever felt. Keeping that.
So on my first day with it, I can see that I’m going to love it more than the Xbox-controller, but that it’ll take a while to design configurations that fit my idiosyncracies and develop skills using them. I’m hoping that when I do figure out a good config for Overwatch, I can export it for use with other games, (I haven’t looked into that yet).
As a sidenote, I’m a hobbyist developer who often uses Unity and I’m super interested in eventually looking into making a game designed for use with this controller.


I honestly had no idea how skilled I am in competitive FPS’s until I started using this controller. It is truly astounding how much skill I’ve developed over the years while considering myself a mediocre player. Trying to remember which button throws Junkrat’s mine and which button detonates it in the urgency of the moment is near impossible; yet I do it effortlessly with standard controller or keyboard/mouse.
The sensation I feel is one of waking up. I play Overwatch for comfort and out of habit because it requires a language my hands understand. Playing multiplayer games is playing non-auditory music in a band with an instrument. I feel as if I should pine for the time I’ve lost gaining skill in shooting cartoon people, but I don’t, I actually take pride in the fact that I’ve sunk so deep in the culture of FPS that I have gained this particular internalization of praxis.
I look forward to other folks like myself having a Steam-controller moment, but it can only happen out of the necessity of stubborn habits and physical inability. I wonder if this will prove so difficult that the spell will be broken and I’ll start building model railroads or maybe a new hobby like formulating new types of slime for their auditory properties.