I'm very happy that I own a Steam controller, even if it's a device I don't actively game with. It's the most comfortable way to navigate Windows on the couch, especially if I'm just looking to watch a movie or Netflix.
But as of this morning, Valve has made the controller a little more interesting for gaming thanks to a new feature called Activators.
The update is only available through the beta branch of the Steam client so far, but Activators have some pretty interesting implications. Here's the official description from Valve themselves:
Activators sit between inputs (such as a button on the controller) and binding outputs (such as a keypress). They control how the input is turned into output and provide a number of settings to control this. Some simple examples are long press, double press, binding cycling, toggles, and delays.
You can put as much activators on a single input as you like -- which is a slightly confusing way of saying that you can assign multiple inputs to the same button press. The difference between the inputs, of course, would be how you press the button.
One suggestion is to use a "Start Press" activator and "Release Press" activator in conjunction with, say, a crouch button. That would allow users to use a single button to turn a toggle crouch into a hold crouch, removing the need to choose a particular setting in the options menu.
There's also something called a Turbo button, which sounds awfully like the kind of rapid-fire mods you find on devices like the CronusMAX and so forth that pledge to give you advantages in-game:
Turbo can be set on Activators, meaning any button can have customized rapid fire. This can be combined with multiple activators, so single press for single fire, while a long press will engage turbo mode.
One problem, however, is that any configurations made under the new setup aren't backwards compatible. "Configurations that are altered under the new setup are not backwards compatible, so modified configurations made in the beta client will not be visible to the stable client," Valve says.