That sleek, polished dime up there wasn't made by Valve with the snap of Gabe Newell's fingers. It came after other prototypes the company tested first. When initially designing its Steam controller , Valve experimented with numerous iterations and designs before coming to one that it felt comfortable with. Valve detailed two of the unused prototypes today during the newest info dump on its upcoming Steam Machines , including one "Frankenstein" of a gamepad.
"It's a break apart motion controller where there were gyroscopes or magnetic sensors in either path, to sense orientation and position," Valve's Greg Coomer explains to Engadget (see the designs in its post). As it sought to find the right input method for the controller, Valve considered heavily emphasizing touch functionality even more than the current prototype does.
"We had a lot of success with that and we started to have conversations about, 'Actually touch is so great, shouldn't we just scrap physical inputs altogether and start building a device that's really more like a fully software-driven control surface?'" Coomer says. The idea of a "device that really can move between different kinds of input devices as a communication and input core" also interested the team, but Coomer says they eventually had to scrap it and move on.
"We had interactive versions and we were quickly learning that it was more abstract and farther removed from anything people were familiar with." The Steam Controller, which we just learned will have only be made by one company is a 16-button gamepad with two touch pads in place of analog sticks. So far, two independent developers, Uber Entertainment and Dan Tabár , have told PC Gamer about their experiences with the current controller. We most likely won't get our hands on it until 2014 , though.