The Steam Controller Just Got A Little More Interesting

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.


    Kind of related, for all those Steam Link users out there (just me?) the new Xbox One S controllers have bluetooth, so we can finally use them with it!

      Kind of cool, I guess :). Are you using the steam link over wifi or Ethernet?

        Ethernet! My apartment is wired for it so I never tried the wifi (if you're genuinely curious I'm happy to report back), but I hear it's only so so. The next best thing would probably be to use an ethernet over powerline adapter.

          I'm genuinely curious. I'm very interested in individual experiences with the Steam link. I thought MS we're going to announce some streaming device at E3 which never eventuated, so I'm tossing up between a Steam link which will handle my Steam library natively, or the generic MS Wireless Display Adapter which I've seen work (over wifi) for productivity stuff, but the one time I tried it with games, it stuttered and jerked around too much for anything twitchy (this may have been a once-off though, and could be related to any number of other issues). Keen to hear others' reports as well.

            I tried wifi when I was first testing my Steam Link, it was sitting next to the wifi access point and it still wasn't good enough for a flawless stream.

            I'm currently running it using powerline Ethernet adapters and it works great.

              Bugger, I'm a bit short on powerpoints near where I want to use it, but if it's a noticeable improvement I might have to suck it up with a double adapter.

                I was using with Ethernet over power for a while. It worked fine at 720p but not so great at 1080p. However, the wiring in my house was ancient and had to be replaced so may not have been ideal conditions. When I had the place re-wired however, I had Ethernet ports put in and now it is flawless. I really like the Steam Link and the controller. Playing through Doom on my couch has been awesome, and has made me pretty damn good with it. To the point where I may not return to M+KS gaming at home.

                  Thanks for the info everyone. The power wiring in my house is over 100 years old, I've used Ethernet over power before and it was slower than my wifi. I know latency is different to bandwidth, but I'm worried. I might just have to bite the bullet and pay for Ethernet wiring :)

    Can we buy these yet?

      You've been able to buy them from Amazon from about October (maybe November?) last year; they'll ship to Australia.

    Xpadder was awesome because it could do these types of things, think it is dead now... I wonder if Valve possibly hired the Dev?

    How can we buy steam controllers in australia?

      The only way to buy them in Australia is to buy them from Amazon -

      They ship to Australia, and don't charge any extra. And just checked, at the moment it's on a sale and a bargain - $15 US off (~$20 AUD) the RRP! Currently 43.66 US including shipping.

      Last edited 30/06/16 8:54 pm

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