Valve gave us a glimpse of its Steam Controller a couple of weeks ago, revealing the gamepad's funky dual-touchpad configuration. Instead of analog thumbsticks, the controller has a pair of circular touchpads backed by "super-precise haptic feedback." The design is supposed to provide more precision for games like first-person shooters and RTS titles, which play poorly on traditional controllers—at least compared to a keyboard and mouse.
Initial impressions from the few game developers who have had their hands on the Steam controller have been positive, and we now have a chance to see the thing in action for ourselves. Valve just posted this video demo:
Yeah, that's pretty cool.
Although the touchpads don't have the range to match sweeping mouse movements, they appear to be quite precise—better than mini joysticks, anyway. And you can chain together the two touchpads to cover larger distances. The touchpad mapping can be altered to suit different genres, which at least makes the controller more versatile than traditional designs.
I don't see anything that makes me want to give up a keyboard and mouse while playing on my desktop, at least for shooters and the like. However, the Steam Controller looks like a better compromise for the living room, and the touchpads may be a better alternative to analog sticks overall. This video is apparently the first in a series, so we'll get to see more of the controller in action soon.