Valve Thinks It's Cracked Typing With A Controller

Valve Thinks It's Cracked Typing With A Controller

Since the dawn of controllers, companies have struggled with the challenge of getting people to type words using just a stick (or d-pad) and some buttons. The latest company to take a shot at this Holy Grail Of Couch Gaming is Valve.

Many others have come before them, and have either failed, relied on stupid keypad dongles or just... succeeded in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Beyond Good & Evil had a pretty good solution:

So too does the PS4, with it's gyroscopic typing allowing for fast, smooth input.

Even Valve themselves have given it a shot, with Steam's Big Picture mode using this "move then pick one" approach that's fast, but takes some getting used to.

Valve Thinks It's Cracked Typing With A Controller

But here comes Valve again with something new. As part of a video released earlier today, the company spends a few seconds showing off how its new Steam controller types. It starts below, at around 0:35

As you can see, the gimmick here is that it's letting you type with both thumbs at once (selecting the letter appears to be done by tapping the "thumbstick" area itself rather than pressing a button).

Will it work any better? Until we've got retail units in our hands in October, who knows. My money is on "it will kinda work, well enough" because if this problem was easy to actually fix — or even possible to fix at all — I think it would have already been solved by now.

Typing with two thumbs at once looks fast in this clip, but I suspect for many it will be like trying to pat their heads while rubbing their belly.

The control pad is good for a lot of things, but hey, maybe typing just isn't ever going to be one of them?


    Man, I would not be playing Cities:Skylines with a controller. Also he screwed himself by building too close to the highway, traffic problems in 5 minutes time.

      I like how that's what you got from this instead of something about the typing hahahaha

    I thought Nintendo already cracked it by putting a keyboard on a touchscreen...

      After the wiimote did it with pointer controls (nice try, Sony).

    I type with two fingers on the keyboard so I guess two thumbs should work well enough for me.......

    I always thought Dasher would make a decent input method for use with a controller, since you could control it with a single analogue stick. Here's an example of it being used:

    Typing with it also feels a bit like a video game, which could fit in well too.

    The controller is looking quiet good, not perfect, but very close. Steam integration is making it mandatory though, would have been nice to see those features with the Xbox 360 pad as well...

    Given how fast I can type using just a D-Pad and a button on a controller, having two analogue controllers to try and aim on particular buttons seems like it would only save a few milliseconds at best and add seconds at worst trying to stop exactly on the keys. I'm also not really convinced it's going to be better than a mouse, there was a lot of back and forth of the thumb doing things a mouse (or even a thumbstick) would achieve in one motion. It's great to see people experimenting with controller ideas but this may be making an already complex problem even worse.

    Last edited 06/06/15 6:32 pm

    My typing skills with a controller are at a level where I just stick to Party Chat on PS4.

    Speaking of hard, anyone tried typing in anything when using Apple TV with that remote? Ouch...........................

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