I ask this purely out of curiosity. When I got into PC gaming, one of the biggest draws for me wasn’t so much the graphics power — it was the mouse and keyboard set-up!
My first attempt at playing with mouse and keyboard was the first Assassin’s Creed game. That was tricky. I felt like I was performing a masterpiece on the piano (and I didn’t get very far).
When I switched to shooters, I fell in love with the set-up and decided PC gaming was really for me. Using the mouse enhances your precision when aiming a firearm, and it feels incredibly natural to just point and shoot — the same thing you do every day on your computer when you click on something! Playing Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3, and Borderlands 2 with the mouse and keyboard was really enjoyable.
Later, I even tackled DmC: Devil May Cry using mouse and keyboard, even though the series is really for PlayStation and a good old-fashioned controller. But using the keyboard not only to select a weapon, but also to click a specific move while holding it, was totally fine. DmC is a lot more challenging with the keyboard than Assassin’s Creed was, but by the time I got around to playing it, I was used to those PC controls and mastered them easily.
Now, I prefer mouse and keyboard for every game I play on the computer, no matter what the genre or gameplay style.
New Steam Machines are beginning to pop up, especially as CES continues to introduce new technology to empty our bank accounts. Now, Alienware has revealed their own Steam Machine which is being called as “one of the platform’s flagship devices, not only due to the scale at which it will be produced, but its blend of performance and form factor.” Alienware’s Steam Machine enters the competition with a build that is smaller than both the PS4 and Xbox One, holding a 8″ by 8″ design and standing at only 3″ tall. The front features two USB 3.0 ports, and the back will contain an ethernet jack and an optical audio connector. In addition, the box will have both and HDMI input and output.
While not much information has been released about the technology powering the device, it has been confirmed that it will use an intel-based CPU and Nvidia GPU. Performance-wise, it’s said that Alienware’s Steam Machine surpasses both the PS4 and Xbox One in power, targeting native resolutions of 1080p. No price has been slated for the device which plans on a later 2014 release. With companies planning on creating their own Steam Machines, how will they manage to compete against well-known consoles such as the PS4 and Xbox One?
A higher emphasis has been placed upon the Steam controller which attempts to blend the qualities of the computer mouse and traditional console controller functions. However, it was revealed that these controllers would be sold separately while other companies manufacture their own.
Word of Valve’s brand new Steam Machine has people interested in the general future of gaming as well as the capabilities of online streaming. Now, Valve has revealed what the Steam Machine prototype looks like with the new controller which was revealed earlier. Valve plans on shipping 300 Steam Machines to lucky beta testers this year, and while there’s nothing too spectacular about the specs, the Steam Machine will eventually become a full customizable device since it will carry components for any normal PC, but it will still be able to fit inside of your entertainment center.
The case is designed so each part can breathe individually with the CPU releasing air at the top, the power supply out the side, and the graphics card out of the back. Apparently nothing shares airspace inside the case.
While Valve will still be tweaking the final design of the Steam Machine, but they plan to produce and sell the Steam Controller by itself. The controller is an interesting design that tries to incorporate the precision of a mouse and keyboard with the versatility of a gamepad, creating a device that truly personifies the future. Valve obviously wants something that will fit and work in the living room.
As someone who is more familiar with traditional controllers, particularly the PlayStation controller, I’m interested in seeing just how accurate the Steam Controller will be. Apparently, while the controls are unfamiliar, they are still surprisingly accurate. The Verge stated that the touchpads “make first-person shooters and other mouse-friendly games far more accessible than any analog stick can afford. You can sweep your thumb across the pad to turn on you heel, then move it a tiny bit more to line up a headshot without having to compensate for a joystick’s return motion.
“You can push a thumb to the very edge of the pad to keep moving continuously. You can even use both touchpads simultaneously in cursor-driven games to move the mouse cursor faster than with either alone.” What is interesting is the fact that Valve is crowdsourcing controller profiles for every Steam game which will allow players to vote up the best sets of controls. Players will also be able to tweak the settings after.
Look for different versions of the Steam Machine to drop in mid 2014. Prices will differ according to the size and initial capabilities of the machines. As someone who is interested in shifting over toward PC gaming, buying a Steam Machine might eventually be a nice alternative and introduce a wider ability of play. Besides… my leather couch is pretty comfy. Abandoning it for pure PC gaming would be tough.