Gaming, Consoles, Steam Controller and I

Valve recently announced Steam Box and Steam Controller. Steam Box was said to be powered by Linux so even though I’m not a gamer I was pretty excited about this move and applauded Valve in moving Linux on the desktop (well, it’s really Linux on a console) and Linux gaming forward.

Unlike Steam Box announcement, I wasn’t so excited about the Steam Controller. I quickly glanced over the announcement and said to myself “just another controller” and moved on with my life. This slightly changed yesterday when I had a look at this video which demonstrates controller in action.

Steam Controller prototype.

The reason is that among other things, the video shows Valve developer playing Counter Strike Global Offensive without any computer assistance such as auto-aim which is typical for FPS games which are played with a controller.

Unlike other FPS games I’ve played or seen played with a controller, this experience looked very smooth and similar to the traditional keyboard + mouse computer gaming.

This gave me some hope that in the near future it will finally be possible to have some real fun while playing First Person Shooters or strategies in front of the TV with a controller.

Gaming and I

Before diving further, I want to clarify my “I’m not a gamer” statement from the first paragraph.

This statement mostly holds true for the past 7 years or so. Before that I used to occasionally play typical PC games of that area (Red Alert 1, Commandos, Command & Conquer: Renegade, GTA, Age of Empires, Sims, Sim City and so on).

The whole thing changed in 2003 when I got my first internet connection and Soldier of Fortune Platinum game. After I played my first online multiplayer session of Soldier of Fortune 1, I immediately got hooked on like never before. The game was a lot of fun and during 2003 - 2005 I spent countless of hours playing this game online and participating in the game community.

Screenshot from one of the countless Soldier of Fortune 1 matches I played. You might notice the textures, or the lack thereof. Soldier of Fortune 1 was powered by the modified Quake 2 game engine and this was the era when everyone tried to squeeze one last FPS out of the game and played with game configs highly optimized for better visibility.

This period was fun and interesting, not just because of the game play itself, but also because of the whole community and ecosystem around the game and other activities that followed. Those activities included running online tournaments for that game, developing many clan, tournament and leaderboard websites, developing game utilities and so on.

Later on this whole experience also got me interested in game modding and development. One of the first things I did was learn how to develop Soldier of Fortune maps using QuArK game editor.

I enjoyed game modding and development so much that a bit later down the road I participated in mod development for games such as Counter Strike 1, Counter Strike Source and Crysis.

After that era, I mostly stopped with any “serious” online gaming. One of the reasons what that I spent more of my time coding and on other non-gaming related projects. The other reason was that I switched to Linux on my desktop in 2007 and I didn’t bother much with dual booting into Windows.

Last year I wanted to get back into gaming a bit so assembled a brand new Windows computer specifically for gaming. I ended up playing some Counter Strike Global Offensive on it, but I haven’t had much time and haven’t used it much, so in the end, I decided to sell it.

New PC I assembled was a beast with 32 GB of ram and CPU over-clocked to 3.8GHz, but in the end, selling it was better than having it idle under my desk.

Consoles and I

If you read the paragraph above you can see that I never mentioned a game console. The reason for that is that I was first and foremost a PC gamer.

As I kid, I did own NES console and I loved playing Mario and other games, but I never managed to enjoy newer games and consoles such as Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Probably one of the main reasons for that is that my favorite game genre is First Person Shooters and playing those games using a controller always felt like a terrible experience to me. And the other part of the reason was this:

I tried to change that and get to love consoles, so a 3 years or so ago, I’ve bought myself an Xbox 360. Sadly the whole thing didn’t work out so well. I simply couldn’t get hooked up to the new games.

Playing non-racing games such as Forza, Burnout Paradise and GTA V was kinda fun, but playing shooters such as Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 was simply terrible.

My total play time for this period was less than 50 hours and big chunk of those hours was spent playing Forza 3 during my long and boring steady-state cardio sessions in 2011.


If you managed to get through the last two paragraphs and I didn’t bore you to death, you might see why I have high hopes for a Steam Controller. Anything which has a potential to make playing first person shooters and strategies with a controller more enjoyable is something to look forward to :)