Valve shares tips for designing touch screen controls for PC games

Valve has learned a bit about designing unique touch controls for games since the launch of Steam Remote Play, and now it wants to pass some of that knowledge on to developers.

Steam Remote Play makes it technically possible for Steam users to play their games from a mobile device, but Valve cautions devs there’s little reason for players to give the feature a try without a functional and friction-free way to control those games on the go.

To combat that, Valve has itself gone out and created different touchscreen controller configurations for 100 of the games it says its users want to play through Remote Play and is now passing some of the lessons it learned while designing those interfaces on to developers.

On top of detailing its own configurations, Valve notes that it has added a Remote Play Optimized search filter to Steam to allow players to quickly find games that are easily playable on mobile phones and other supported Remote Play devices without having to endure a lengthy trial-and-error process.

The full post breaks down the layouts it designed for Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch, Stardew Valley, and Session, three games that have very different needs as far as ideal input goes. For example, Ni No Kuni offers a fairly standard touchscreen controller while the Stardew Valley layout enlarges the on-screen button Valve says players will need the most, and moves some of the other provided touchscreen buttons out of their default locations to avoid clashing with important in-game elements.

The input options for the skateboarding game Session are completely different from both Ni No Kuni’s standard and Stardew Valley’s tweaked control layouts and places virtual analog sticks in the center portion of the screen, with other necessary buttons along each side. In each case, Valve highlights how a controller tailored to the game's demands makes for an overall better Remote Play experience. 

There’s a new API in the mix as well that detects the device Remote Play is being used on and adjusts displays and interfaces accordingly. Details on that, and detailed documentation on building touch configurations for Steam games, can be found on Steamworks.

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