Here's The Steam Controller's Final Design

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Here's The Steam Controller's Final Design

This is what the Steam Controller will look like when it launches in November.

Valve's Steam Controller has been hit with quite a few delays and redesigns since it was first revealed last year, but at this year's Game Developers Conference, the developer promised it would show off the "final" version of the controller ahead of it's November launch. Now, our friends over at Engadget have gotten their mitts on it, and have taken a few pictures. Check them out below:

The final version is pretty similar to that redesign we saw back in December, which as well as a single analog stick in place of the D-pad, also featured a kind of four-point-directional-guide over the left track-pad. Previously, Valve explained the addition of an analog stick was due to testers having trouble making the jump from traditional dual-thumbstick controllers to the dual-trackpad design of the initial Steam Controller.

Hands-on reports of the new controller seem to be telling us the same story we heard with previous redesigns - the controller is unique and fun to use, but very hard to learn and even harder to explain to someone who has never used it before.

The Steam Controller will launch alongside the first wave of Steam Machines in November, as well as Valve's new Steam Link streaming hardware.

Source: Engadget

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Damn, looks like they removed the triggers on the inside of the handholds. Oh well.

Oh wait, I guess they're still there, just in a weird way.

I never really understood the reason for having 2 pads and a stick. Now you have one pad for aiming, the stick for moving, and another trackpad posing as a D-Pad, but without the responsiveness or feel of one.

That and I have no real idea who this controller is for, but I guess I cannot really say much more without actually using it.

Honestly, I'm surprised they're only $49.99. I expected them to be at least $10 more.

Not that I'm complaining. Quite the opposite, in fact. I really want to try one and now I can acquire one for less than I'd thought.

Now I wonder what the price-point will be for the Vive...

Frezzato:
Damn, looks like they removed the triggers on the inside of the handholds. Oh well.

Nope. They're still there. They're now low-profile and are flush with the casing near the middle. They still 'click' down as before, they're just less obvious.

Steven Bogos:

Hands-on reports of the new controller seem to be telling us the same story we heard with previous redesigns - the controller is unique and fun to use, but very hard to learn and even harder to explain to someone who has never used it before.

That's....not what I've been hearing. From the accounts I've seen it seems that Valve have improved the touch-pads and haptic feedback even more than before. I heard a first-hand account that claimed that the track-pads, while in 'track-ball mode', actually felt like track-balls - in so far as the way the rest of the controller felt and the way the game behaved.

Laggyteabag:
I never really understood the reason for having 2 pads and a stick. Now you have one pad for aiming, the stick for moving, and another trackpad posing as a D-Pad, but without the responsiveness or feel of one.

I agree, I think it would have been better to go all the way with a truly innovative design rather than meet us half way because some people don't like change. As PC purist I never got used to analogue sticks to begin with, so I really wouldn't have minded, but embossing a crosspad into it worries me a little; a lot of applications might end up not using it to its full advantage and opting instead to use the analogue stick.

On the other hand driving will probably work better with the stick because of its self-centering properties.

Hm, doesn't dropping that d-pad mean playing games like street fighter is pretty much impossible?
And how about platformers?
I kinda need the precision of a d-pad for something like super metroid and that touch "d-pad" just gives off touchscreen vibes for me.
That is it looks awkward and floaty and not something you'd want to play mario with.

This seems to be geared towards egoshooters more than anything else and I'm not so sure if stick+touchpad comes close to keyboard and mouse.

Now just announce some games and everyone will be happy.
We're getting Steam machines, streaming devices, funky new-age controllers aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand?!

I'm just getting blue balls over here.

I had hoped for more buttons for non-xinput enabled games. Your hand covers so many keys on a keyboard I would want something that offers at least a portion of those options.

loa:
Hm, doesn't dropping that d-pad mean playing games like street fighter is pretty much impossible?
And how about platformers?
I kinda need the precision of a d-pad for something like super metroid and that touch "d-pad" just gives off touchscreen vibes for me.
That is it looks awkward and floaty and not something you'd want to play mario with.

I can't see how anyone can claim anything like this without trying it first. You have trouble imagining it being accurate and precise. I have a relatively easy time imagining something better than any D-Pad on the market right now that isn't on a third party fight pad if they did it right.

Vivi22:
I can't see how anyone can claim anything like this without trying it first.

Where in that post did I make a claim?

Sweet...and thank god! I have games on steam that I'm struggling with because the interface would suit a controller better!

After an initial "shit, that's a cool idea" phase, I've remained skeptical that the track pads will offer any serious increase in aiming precision over analog sticks.

It looks like they've increased the pad diameter as far as possible at this point. Still, if the player only has direct control of turning speed (indirect control of position) like with analog sticks, it's hard to imagine a big improvement given the limited pad size.

To be fair, I seem to recall an earlier video demo where they showed the track pad being scrolled across, similar to how a mouse is operated. Am I remembering this correctly?

The question must be asked - is Valve just pushing a new input mechanism they know is a gimmick because they're too invested? If it was a less reputable company, I'd be tempted to think so.

I know this is overlooking the bigger picture, but I'm actually really glad to see that it charges with a micro USB cable.

The thumbstick still weirds me out, but at least it's mostly optional. There was a fake image floating around that the final redesign was going to be essentially an Xbox controller shape, but with a Sony configuration for the sticks.

StreamerDarkly:
After an initial "shit, that's a cool idea" phase, I've remained skeptical that the track pads will offer any serious increase in aiming precision over analog sticks.

It looks like they've increased the pad diameter as far as possible at this point. Still, if the player only has direct control of turning speed (indirect control of position) like with analog sticks, it's hard to imagine a big improvement given the limited pad size.

To be fair, I seem to recall an earlier video demo where they showed the track pad being scrolled across, similar to how a mouse is operated. Am I remembering this correctly?

The question must be asked - is Valve just pushing a new input mechanism they know is a gimmick because they're too invested? If it was a less reputable company, I'd be tempted to think so.

I can't see this working the way an analog stick does.
Or at least, that would be a bad idea from what I know of the closest relatives of this (touchscreen devices, and laptop trackpads)

A laptop trackpad is probably the most accurate reference for where you start with imagining how this works.
I wouldn't game with one, but they have more in common with mice than they do with an analog stick.

For instance, since I have one in front of me right now, there are several properties of it that stand out.
1. The mouse cursor moves when your finger moves.
2. the distance it moves depends on the speed of your finger movement across the pad.
3. If you hit the ends of the pad (or get near them), you lift your finger, move it back across, and slide it further.
- Which is a smaller scale equivalent to what you do when you run out of space with a mouse.

If they've improved the amount of tactile feedback, I'd say that's what you're looking at here.
The closest relatives of these are undoubtedly laptop trackpads...

Which doesn't sound brilliant to me, exactly, having tried to play games with those in the past, but it's an entirely different kind of control to an analog stick.
Certainly more precise, though in my experience the reason it doesn't work isn't lack of precision, it's the awkward ergonomics of the touchpads on laptops, which leads to slow response time relative to a proper mouse.
Accurate, but slow when complex sequences of movements are involved, would be how I'd describe a conventional touchpad...

I guess there's only one way to find out how this really compares...

CrystalShadow:

For instance, since I have one in front of me right now, there are several properties of it that stand out.
2. the distance it moves depends on the speed of your finger movement across the pad.
3. If you hit the ends of the pad (or get near them), you lift your finger, move it back across, and slide it further.
- Which is a smaller scale equivalent to what you do when you run out of space with a mouse.

Number 2 is a subtle point that I never fully appreciated until just now. In fact, I thought you were wrong until I just confirmed it with my own mouse. Previously I had assumed the cursor distance was in direct proportion to the mouse distance, irrespective of speed. Thank you for that.

Number 3 is the key property that allows a large range of motion to be simulated in a small space. Still, I'm wondering how many trips across the pad will be needed to turn, say, 90 degrees? Hopefully it can be done in a single swipe for executing a fast but smooth twitch. Alternatively, they will keep the reticle moving when your thumb slides off the end of the pad until a correcting touch is applied.

StreamerDarkly:

CrystalShadow:

For instance, since I have one in front of me right now, there are several properties of it that stand out.
2. the distance it moves depends on the speed of your finger movement across the pad.
3. If you hit the ends of the pad (or get near them), you lift your finger, move it back across, and slide it further.
- Which is a smaller scale equivalent to what you do when you run out of space with a mouse.

Number 2 is a subtle point that I never fully appreciated until just now. In fact, I thought you were wrong until I just confirmed it with my own mouse. Previously I had assumed the cursor distance was in direct proportion to the mouse distance, irrespective of speed. Thank you for that.

Number 3 is the key property that allows a large range of motion to be simulated in a small space. Still, I'm wondering how many trips across the pad will be needed to turn, say, 90 degrees? Hopefully it can be done in a single swipe for executing a fast but smooth twitch.

Lol. Yeah, I guess it's easy to miss. But once you start reading SDK documentation, (or hardware info on how mice work) you start to realise just how complicated it actually gets.

The cursor velocity is a non-linear function of the relative movement of the mouse over a given time. It's not simply, move the mouse twice as far in a second, move the cursor twice as far, there's an actual finely tuned acceleration curve involved.

Which is crazy when you think about it. Someone sat around and tried to optimise the acceleration of the mouse cursor relative to mouse movement to get the best balance of precision and speed out of it... XD

I think I had the same response as most other people, ie "That looks fucking retarded but I guess I can't knock it until I try it".
It looks really cheap and plastic-y though, must be why they can sell it for so little.

Signa:
I had hoped for more buttons for non-xinput enabled games. Your hand covers so many keys on a keyboard I would want something that offers at least a portion of those options.

To be fair, it has 18 buttons that can be mapped to do whatever you wish. More if you count the 8 directional clicks of each track pad or if you customize the controller to use one of the underside buttons as a "shift" or "alt" modifier.

Still, I agree that it's not a complete replacement of a keyboard, in terms of key mapping options.

StreamerDarkly:

Number 2 is a subtle point that I never fully appreciated until just now. In fact, I thought you were wrong until I just confirmed it with my own mouse. Previously I had assumed the cursor distance was in direct proportion to the mouse distance, irrespective of speed. Thank you for that.

Except, you can disable that by going to your Windows mouse settings and disabling mouse acceleration. The same goes for many games.

Number 3 is the key property that allows a large range of motion to be simulated in a small space. Still, I'm wondering how many trips across the pad will be needed to turn, say, 90 degrees? Hopefully it can be done in a single swipe for executing a fast but smooth twitch. Alternatively, they will keep the reticle moving when your thumb slides off the end of the pad until a correcting touch is applied.

This can be adjusted. It's not like the pads are locked to one range of motion.

CrystalShadow:

Lol. Yeah, I guess it's easy to miss. But once you start reading SDK documentation, (or hardware info on how mice work) you start to realise just how complicated it actually gets.

The cursor velocity is a non-linear function of the relative movement of the mouse over a given time. It's not simply, move the mouse twice as far in a second, move the cursor twice as far, there's an actual finely tuned acceleration curve involved.

Which is crazy when you think about it. Someone sat around and tried to optimise the acceleration of the mouse cursor relative to mouse movement to get the best balance of precision and speed out of it... XD

As I'd stated above, mouse acceleration is something that can (and often should be) disabled.

In fact, you'll find most pro-level gamers disable mouse acceleration - both in-game and at an OS level - so they can get true 1-to-1 movement.

The same thing can apply to the track-pads on the Steam controller. They can be customized to offer a wide array of tracking ranges, as well as differing levels of acceleration.

Vigormortis:

CrystalShadow:

Lol. Yeah, I guess it's easy to miss. But once you start reading SDK documentation, (or hardware info on how mice work) you start to realise just how complicated it actually gets.

The cursor velocity is a non-linear function of the relative movement of the mouse over a given time. It's not simply, move the mouse twice as far in a second, move the cursor twice as far, there's an actual finely tuned acceleration curve involved.

Which is crazy when you think about it. Someone sat around and tried to optimise the acceleration of the mouse cursor relative to mouse movement to get the best balance of precision and speed out of it... XD

As I'd stated above, mouse acceleration is something that can (and often should be) disabled.

In fact, you'll find most pro-level gamers disable mouse acceleration - both in-game and at an OS level - so they can get true 1-to-1 movement.

The same thing can apply to the track-pads on the Steam controller. They can be customized to offer a wide array of tracking ranges, as well as differing levels of acceleration.

That really depends on the type of game.
But for many games the OS settings are irrelevant anyway, because the game does it's own calculations.

I've done enough game programming to know that. Yes, you can read the values the OS gives you, but more often than not it's better, if creating a game to work with the raw data the mouse sends out.

And that data is a series of packets describing the change of position over time. 99% of the time you can't apply this directly, especially in a game, because there is an absurd mismatch between the resolution of the mouse and what you are trying to control with it.

This is made much worse by the wide range of mice with huge differences in dpi settings (or equivalent, depending on how the mouse works)

Non-linear motion is one option among many, which indeed you may not want in some situations, but then again, may appreciate in others.
It depends...

CrystalShadow:

snip

Oh, I know. You're actually 'preaching to the choir' on this one. I've done my fair share of 'homework' on properly config'ing mice.

I was just saying that the track-pads on the Steam controller are far more high resolution than the sorts of track-pads we tend to come across on other devices, and their tracking speeds and range of motions are variable.

I spoke with someone who owned one of the early beta builds of the controller. He said that, even in its early state, the pads were highly adjustable to suite a wide range of input needs. From 1-to-1 tracking like one would want on a mouse, to 'momentum' based tracking like you'd see with a track-ball. It could even be configured to emulate an analog stick. (though he saw little point to it)

I'm confused. Wasn't the point of this thing to be having the comfort of a controller while having the flexibility of a keyboard? I'm only seeing two more buttons than a 360 controller... Maybe it's the angles in the pictures and there's actually more. Can anyone confirm this?

Besides the buttons issue, the thing doesn't really look very comfortable to hold. Those track pads look they'll really be a pain on the thumbs with prolonged use. I mean, if you're regularly having to go to the edge of those pads, you're going to be contorting your thumbs pretty often.

Maybe I just don't get it but I don't really see any reason to use this over a 360 controller and definitely not over a keyboard and mouse.

You ever see that episode of Voyager where Tuvok and Neelix accidentally get fused inside of the transporter and create an unholy abomination to God and science alike?
Casue that's the vibe i'm getting here

Vigormortis:

CrystalShadow:

snip

Oh, I know. You're actually 'preaching to the choir' on this one. I've done my fair share of 'homework' on properly config'ing mice.

I was just saying that the track-pads on the Steam controller are far more high resolution than the sorts of track-pads we tend to come across on other devices, and their tracking speeds and range of motions are variable.

I spoke with someone who owned one of the early beta builds of the controller. He said that, even in its early state, the pads were highly adjustable to suite a wide range of input needs. From 1-to-1 tracking like one would want on a mouse, to 'momentum' based tracking like you'd see with a track-ball. It could even be configured to emulate an analog stick. (though he saw little point to it)

Well, that makes sense given the huge variety of things you're expected to be able to use it for...
So, that's a good sign at least that someone that had a prototype found it worked quite well.

I really would have preferred a d-pad to the analog stick. That bums me out to the point where I am reconsidering getting one. Granted, if the touchpad works just as well might be worth the wait. I was so excited for this stupid controller.

I'm just glad to have some competition for the xbox controller that doesn't require unofficial 3rd party drivers. Too bad they didn't release last year when I actually needed a new pc controller >:[

I'm glad they kept the two circular trackpads, I thought they got rid of those.
Question is, will I be able to use it with all the games that require a xbox360 controller?

Agh, I was worried they would go this route. Quite a bit of the games I own on Steam work best with a good d-pad (PS3 controller for me). Right now, I don't see a point in getting this, since my controller needs are fulfilled and, if I really want to play a Kb and M centric game on the big screen, I'll set up a way to make a Kb and M work away from my desk. I'll wait for reviews and personal opinions of random Joes like us (as one should with any game related thing these days) before I truly decry it as an over-invested attempt to shoehorn two distinctively different control schemes.

Meh... I'll still buy it... unless I can't play my Lemmings on it... That's my personal dealbreaker right there...

But seriously, I'll still buy this controller just because it looks cool to me... and it's Steam-compatible and shit...

It's interesting if nothing else, having played around using the trackpad on my keyboard with my thumb I can see it being more accurate than an analogue stick without losing too much in comfort. Mind you for living room options I've settled on a mouse + keypad which feels like a much better compromise for playing rts and shooters than this.

I saw a video of the Steam controller from the Verge where they were demoing the controller using System Shock 2, which, as anyone who has played SS2 could tell you is a game that would never work on a regular controller thanks to its intricate interface. The person testing the controller seemed to have a positive reaction, so colour me enthused. Plus it's going to be cheaper than the ps4 and xbox 1 controllers at $50 USD.

Laggyteabag:

That and I have no real idea who this controller is for, but I guess I cannot really say much more without actually using it.

Its just better , or that's the feedback i've heard, more precise controls for movement more mouse like aiming, just plain better.

Not many people that arent old farts like me realise PC players never used to use mice, doom was played with just a keyboard, i remember one summer holiday when everyone was back from uni and we had a 6 player lan set up in my house for the brand new release of quake and some serious multi player death matching, I unhappy with the speed of aiming in this new truly 3d battlefield noticing the mouse option decided to use it. and it was horrible.. at first. a week later and everyone else had been forced into going through the same learning process.

"if" this controller delivers, and from the reports ive read its going to. when people have to start using it to be competitive in COD and FIFA it could well be the same level of revolution for consoles as the mouse was for PC.

loa:
Hm, doesn't dropping that d-pad mean playing games like street fighter is pretty much impossible?
And how about platformers?
I kinda need the precision of a d-pad for something like super metroid and that touch "d-pad" just gives off touchscreen vibes for me.
That is it looks awkward and floaty and not something you'd want to play mario with.

This seems to be geared towards egoshooters more than anything else and I'm not so sure if stick+touchpad comes close to keyboard and mouse.

according to a video from Kotaku, the pads have 8-directional digital click inputs.

StreamerDarkly:

CrystalShadow:

For instance, since I have one in front of me right now, there are several properties of it that stand out.
2. the distance it moves depends on the speed of your finger movement across the pad.
3. If you hit the ends of the pad (or get near them), you lift your finger, move it back across, and slide it further.
- Which is a smaller scale equivalent to what you do when you run out of space with a mouse.

Number 2 is a subtle point that I never fully appreciated until just now. In fact, I thought you were wrong until I just confirmed it with my own mouse. Previously I had assumed the cursor distance was in direct proportion to the mouse distance, irrespective of speed. Thank you for that.

It is called mouse acceleration. It is a turn-offable function in OS. Many shooters also disable this for more precise aiming. its great for navigating your OS, not so much for FPS.

CrystalShadow:

That really depends on the type of game.
But for many games the OS settings are irrelevant anyway, because the game does it's own calculations.

I've done enough game programming to know that. Yes, you can read the values the OS gives you, but more often than not it's better, if creating a game to work with the raw data the mouse sends out.

And that data is a series of packets describing the change of position over time. 99% of the time you can't apply this directly, especially in a game, because there is an absurd mismatch between the resolution of the mouse and what you are trying to control with it.

This is made much worse by the wide range of mice with huge differences in dpi settings (or equivalent, depending on how the mouse works)

Non-linear motion is one option among many, which indeed you may not want in some situations, but then again, may appreciate in others.
It depends...

This is not entirely correct. any game that uses mouse uses OS calcuation for mouse input with one exception. The exception is using RAW input and do your own mouse driver support. Very few games do this. Most games instead use windows API and send in commands to disable things like Mouse Acceleration while you play which windows restore once you quit the game.

Raw is great if you can code your mouse driver well. most dont bother and use windows settings to disable all fancy windows stuff and leave only basic input.

Ironically, windows do not support this outside of fullscreen game, so you cannot truly force mouse acceleration off in your OS. yes, even if you disable it in settings.

RedDeadFred:
I'm confused. Wasn't the point of this thing to be having the comfort of a controller while having the flexibility of a keyboard? I'm only seeing two more buttons than a 360 controller... Maybe it's the angles in the pictures and there's actually more. Can anyone confirm this?

No, the point of this controller was to show the wonders of mouse precision controls to unfortunates who can only play with controllers.

zumbledum:
Not many people that arent old farts like me realise PC players never used to use mice, doom was played with just a keyboard, i remember one summer holiday when everyone was back from uni and we had a 6 player lan set up in my house for the brand new release of quake and some serious multi player death matching, I unhappy with the speed of aiming in this new truly 3d battlefield noticing the mouse option decided to use it. and it was horrible.. at first. a week later and everyone else had been forced into going through the same learning process.

Indeed. I think it's especially bad for console gamers who have had controllers of pretty similar design for quite a while now with no real option to try different control schemes, but even with PCs a lot of people don't seem to realise just how much things have changed in a very short time before and, importantly, how easy and quick it is to get used to it when the change is actually beneficial. I absolutely hated mice when they were first introduced to gaming, I generally just found myself looking at the floor or ceiling and could hardly play games at all. But that was before mice were used much at all, with DOS still the main platform for gaming. As mice became more widespread and people actually learned to use them, it quickly became obvious how superior they were to just using a keyboard.

And of course it's not just mice. Trackpads, tablets, touchscreens, trackballs, those stupid nipple things, and plenty of other input methods have turned up over the years. Some of them aren't exactly great in many situations, but none of them are that hard to get the hang of using. And this isn't even some revolutionary new control scheme, it's just a slight variation on a very well known controller layout. Maybe it will be good and maybe it will suck, but the majority of the hate seems to be simply that it's different and might take a bit of getting used to, and that's really just silly. Just because you're used to one particular control scheme doesn't mean it must be the best, and just because you can't immediately use a new one as well as your old one doesn't mean it's not worth the really quite minor effort of learning it.

"if" this controller delivers, and from the reports ive read its going to. when people have to start using it to be competitive in COD and FIFA it could well be the same level of revolution for consoles as the mouse was for PC.

I very much doubt it. As noted above, this is actually a fairly minor variation on an existing input device. It's still the same basic controller with the same basic buttons in largely the same places. Even if it does turn out to be better in some ways than existing controllers, it's very much an evolutionary change, not a revolutionary one. It's more like the addition of scroll wheels to mice than the introduction of mice themselves.

Strazdas:

StreamerDarkly:

CrystalShadow:

For instance, since I have one in front of me right now, there are several properties of it that stand out.
2. the distance it moves depends on the speed of your finger movement across the pad.
3. If you hit the ends of the pad (or get near them), you lift your finger, move it back across, and slide it further.
- Which is a smaller scale equivalent to what you do when you run out of space with a mouse.

Number 2 is a subtle point that I never fully appreciated until just now. In fact, I thought you were wrong until I just confirmed it with my own mouse. Previously I had assumed the cursor distance was in direct proportion to the mouse distance, irrespective of speed. Thank you for that.

It is called mouse acceleration. It is a turn-offable function in OS. Many shooters also disable this for more precise aiming. its great for navigating your OS, not so much for FPS.

CrystalShadow:

That really depends on the type of game.
But for many games the OS settings are irrelevant anyway, because the game does it's own calculations.

I've done enough game programming to know that. Yes, you can read the values the OS gives you, but more often than not it's better, if creating a game to work with the raw data the mouse sends out.

And that data is a series of packets describing the change of position over time. 99% of the time you can't apply this directly, especially in a game, because there is an absurd mismatch between the resolution of the mouse and what you are trying to control with it.

This is made much worse by the wide range of mice with huge differences in dpi settings (or equivalent, depending on how the mouse works)

Non-linear motion is one option among many, which indeed you may not want in some situations, but then again, may appreciate in others.
It depends...

This is not entirely correct. any game that uses mouse uses OS calcuation for mouse input with one exception. The exception is using RAW input and do your own mouse driver support. Very few games do this. Most games instead use windows API and send in commands to disable things like Mouse Acceleration while you play which windows restore once you quit the game.

Raw is great if you can code your mouse driver well. most dont bother and use windows settings to disable all fancy windows stuff and leave only basic input.

Ironically, windows do not support this outside of fullscreen game, so you cannot truly force mouse acceleration off in your OS. yes, even if you disable it in settings.

That's dp rather questionable given that mouse acceleration in the windows api is only applied to direct mode (where the api call returns a cursor location), rather than relative mode. ( where it returns the coordinate delta values)

And using direct mode for situations where there is no cursor onscreen (like say, when controlling the targeting reticule in an fps) is totally absurd.

While it's true that in windowed mode there are a lot of extra complications (which explains why historically, many games didn't support it well, if at all)

Among these many are graphics limitations. There's no ability to do page flipping in windowed mode. You cannot set the resolution or colour depth. (a big pain if your engine isn't coded for every possible colour depth).
The front buffer contains the entire screen, not just your game's window. The title bar counts as part of the window... You ideally need to be able to handle window move and resize events. (a surpring number of games can't deal with that)

All common stuff for general windows programming, but a headache for games.

Mouse behaviour also varies depending on if you use the windows api calls, directInput or XInput to handle things. Then it also varies on what kind of data you ask for...

But why you'd use screen coordinates outside of situations in which you have a cursor onscreen...

Well, anyway, what makes you so sure about what most games do anyway?
My knowledge comes from programming books and api documents.

That doesn't tell me what any given game does, but it does tell me some methods would be rather dumb to use in games...

CrystalShadow:

That's dp rather questionable given that mouse acceleration in the windows api is only applied to direct mode (where the api call returns a cursor location), rather than relative mode. ( where it returns the coordinate delta values)

And using direct mode for situations where there is no cursor onscreen (like say, when controlling the targeting reticule in an fps) is totally absurd.

While it's true that in windowed mode there are a lot of extra complications (which explains why historically, many games didn't support it well, if at all)

Among these many are graphics limitations. There's no ability to do page flipping in windowed mode. You cannot set the resolution or colour depth. (a big pain if your engine isn't coded for every possible colour depth).
The front buffer contains the entire screen, not just your game's window. The title bar counts as part of the window... You ideally need to be able to handle window move and resize events. (a surpring number of games can't deal with that)

All common stuff for general windows programming, but a headache for games.

Mouse behaviour also varies depending on if you use the windows api calls, directInput or XInput to handle things. Then it also varies on what kind of data you ask for...

But why you'd use screen coordinates outside of situations in which you have a cursor onscreen...

Well, anyway, what makes you so sure about what most games do anyway?
My knowledge comes from programming books and api documents.

That doesn't tell me what any given game does, but it does tell me some methods would be rather dumb to use in games...

acceleration is the most noticable but not the only fancypants stuff windows do to your cursor. That being said i dont think many games use direct mode anyway, more using the windows api with commands to disable acceleration.

and yes windowed gaming is entirely different beast in terms of support there.

My knowledge comes from observing how games so stuff and experimenting. i read quite a lot about it (when i want to understand how something works i go on research binge, wasting a lot of time and ealrning a lot of useless info) but i never made a game myself

It would be cool if noone used direct mode though, however appears that even games like Far Cry 4 fail at that. though FC4 seems to have a shitton of technical problems, but of course being ubisoft they tried to hide them.

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