First demonstration of Steam’s controller (Video)

Steam’s latest initiative is to bring their downloadable gaming platform to the living room.  They’re working on a variety of different pieces to the puzzle that they need to make their goal a reality, including Steam’s Big Picture Mode and the Linux-based Steam OS.  Without a controller, the other components would still need a player to use a mouse and keyboard to play games. To sum up, Steam decided to create an innovative new controller that would simulate keyboard and mouse functionality, while offering convenient use in a living room setting.

Steam Video Game Controller


FEATURES

  • Clickable high-resolution track-pads that can replace the functions of both the mouse and the keyboard
  • Another clickable high-resolution screen rests in the middle of the controller.  This screen allows you to navigate through an on-screen overlay to select your action without taking your eyes off of the screen
  • The controller’s design has  16 configurable buttons all intuitively placed by ranking the frequency of use for each button.
  • Users can bind keys on the controller and save those configurations.  This will allow users to create specific button configurations for each game
  • In my opinion, the most exciting feature about the controller is the ability to “hack” it so users can create their own unique device from the controller
  • Stylish design (The controller is still in beta so the design will likely change, but it looks pretty sexy as-is)

Hackable Controller


VIDEO DEMONSTRATION

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Darkspore Beta Available on Steam

Maxis & EA are at it again with possibly another amazing game called Darkspore! Solid name I say… If you hop on Steam now you’ll be able to play the beta of the action RPG Darkspore for free.

Darkspore lets you play with up to four players in pvp or co-op modes as a single character.  However, you can gain access to other characters and use their specials skills much like the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games.  However, unlike Ultimate Alliance you get to experience all of the sci-fi goodness we all love!

The official release occurs in April so if you’re interested in playing the beta we would suggest you hustle onto Steam now… or you can wait until the release date and put down the $49.99 for the full retail game.

 

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Diablo 3 Hold-Outs: Give up and get Torchlight

Torchlight is an action-oriented dungeon crawler from Runic Games, formed by some of the former Diablo developers.  The game is built from the mold of and heavily borrows from it’s spiritual predecessors in the Diablo series.  While it has the glaring flaw of being single-player, this little gem offers more than enough to make it a worthwhile purchase.  I, like many others, was initially hesitant to give Torchlight a whirl for that express reason.  I had thought I would just wait for the “real thing” with Diablo 3.  However after I tried Torchlight, it became clear that the “real thing” is already here, even without the boon of multi-player.

Torchlight

Most of the beloved elements of the Diablo series is intact; a massive cache of loot to be procured, enchantments, random dungeons and a skill tree system more than resembling that of Diablo and World of Warcraft.  The action itself will be very familiar to any Diablo fan, as the game plays exactly as expected from first glance.  Runic has kindly implemented several new bells and whistles to give an update to the tried and true format.

One of the most noticeable and initial additions is the pet.  Players get to choose from a Dog or Cat (not the tiny fluffy kind) to join in on the fun.  Not only will your beast eviscerate your enemies, they also provide additional inventory space and can return to town to sell goods without the player ever leaving the battlefield.  This feature alone take some the tedium away from the genre as there are less interruptions in game play just to clear inventory.  Various fishing spots throughout the game can provide magic and possibly mercury laced seafood that provides buffs for your creature, transforming them into one of the various monsters on the roster.

In town there are multiple storage chests available, allowing for good organization of equipment and less need to cull good equipment just to make room.  The storage chests themselves are universal for all characters a player has, facilitating sharing of equipment and items without having to go through any rigmarole.  Torchlight also incorporates a hotbar system akin to that of World of Warcraft and other MMOs, allowing the player to assign hotkeys to use specific items or spells with the push of one button.  Potions also stack in groups of 20, so the days of trying to properly organize your potions on a belt are well behind us.

Delightfully Runic has included a “Hardcore” difficulty for Torchlight, which Diablo players may fondly or frustratingly remember.  As with Diablo, death is permanent in this mode and it will likely happen with a disturbing, heart-wrenching frequency.  Masochism isn’t really my bag, but plenty of people dugg it in the Diablo series and will find it equally appealing/atrocious here.  The graphics are smooth, crisp and mesh well with the gameplay, despite not having heavy hardware requirements.  Torchlight even has a “Netbook Mode” in the settings for those playing on a small format or antiquated machine.

Don’t let the fact that there is no multiplayer deter you from Torchlight.  It’s available for $20 which is a steal for the amount of content and playtime that is easily derived from the game.  I’d recommend purchasing on Steam, especially when it’s on sale, as your settings and progress are saved into the Steam cloud and is shared to any computer you install the game on.  This goes along quite nicely with the ability to immediately pick up wherever you were last at, allowing you to easily jump in and out of the action.

I obtained my copy for $10 during a weekend sale on Steam, but it is easily worth the “full” price.  I’m not saying Diablo 3 won’t rock your face off, or that I won’t buy it (Oh, I will).  However with the release date of Diablo 3 still lingering on the distant horizon, Torchlight will satiate your dungeon crawling jones quite nicely.

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