5 Things Valve Could Still Add to the Steam Controller Configurator to Improve It
One of the things that has made the Steam Controller exciting over the past year is how Valve has constantly added new features to the Steam Controller configurator. While the addition of new features has become more tepid of late, there’s still more room for new features to improve the configurator, and make it more appealing to end users and programmers alike. Valve, of course, knows what they want their configurator to be capable of better than I do, but I’d still like to take a guess as to things that they might add, if they happen to read my wishlist.
- Pointers to Items in other Action Sets
In a previous update, Valve added activators with the promise that they’d allow Action Sets to work like mode shifting. For the most part this is true, but it also necessitates the creation of similar action sets, all of which need to be updated if you decide to change something on the fly. But this would change if they had pointers. If you could tell one button to inherit its action from the same button in a different action set, you could change the behavior of several action sets by just changing the one the other action sets are inheriting from. This would cut down the work needed to change a configuration with multiple action sets, and making using multiple action sets easier.
- Uploadable / Downloadable Action Names
Ideally, good Native Steam Controller support would be added to every game on Steam. But, practically, that’s just not possible. Valve created Legacy Mode for the configurator to allow support for these old games regardless, but that has the downside of having to pick actions based on a keyboard or gamepad button rather than the actions themselves. While Valve does allow you to name your action after adding it, there’s no way to tell what each action does from the get go. But, if it were possible to download just the action names from a profile, and assign actions based on those names, this feature could theoretically exist in Legacy Mode as well. It wouldn’t update the glyphs the way the Steam Controller API does, but since Legacy Mode is meant to emulate native controls as much as possible in games that don’t use it, this would be another step in that direction.
- Combined Button Presses
There’s currently a slight problem with the Native API, in that it more or less requires each action to be mapped to a specific button. While the touch menu, activators, etc. give you a lot of options for mapping multiple actions to one button, the typical go to of button combinations triggering certain actions (e.g. any finisher move in the Arkham games requiring two face buttons) is not possible without a very convoluted combination of action sets and activators. To make it easier to implement and create a configuration with the native API, there should be an option to map a command to a button combo press. That way, each action can still be uniquely named, and mapped according to the user’s preferences, and it could help the game designers avoid problems with convoluted setups preventing you from activating a combo they set up.
- Trackpad / Joystick Movement Toggle
I personally like to use the trackpad on my Steam Controller for movement wherever possible. I seem to be in a minority, as nearly every configuration uploaded to the Steam Community Configurations maps movement to the joystick. What I would like is for there to be a setting somewhere in the controller configuration settings that automatically switches those for me (including turning the touch menus to a radial menu on the right stick where necessary). Also, it would switch my own configurations back to normal before I upload them. That way, this odd preference of mine can be fully supported without it inhibiting my ability to upload configurations that other people can use, and vice versa.
- Image Based Action Set Triggers
Cursor detection was meant to be a way to detect if you’re in a menu, but that can be inconsistent across operating systems and game types. However, apart from accessing the cursor, menus (or at least a part of them) also are typically static images. So, one thing I’d like to see is the ability to take a screenshot of the game you’re configuring, save it in some lossless format, and compare that against what’s on the screen. You could even specify a specific chunk, and compare that chunk to a proportionally similar part of the screen to detect menus that only cover a portion of the screen!