informa
2 MIN READ
News

Valve trying to make hardware 'more like software'

"We’re very interested in trying to make hardware more like software. With a traditional controller, people think of it as a solely physical object [...] but there’s actually a huge software layer that’s doing a lot of work."
"We’re very interested in trying to make hardware more like software. With a traditional controller, people think of it as a solely physical object [...] but there’s actually a huge software layer that’s doing a lot of work."

- Steam Controller designer Robin Walker speaking to The Guardian about Valve's design philosophy.

Half-Life developer and Steam creator Valve has shed light on its hardware design philosophies. 

Speaking to The Guardian's Keith Stuart about the company's Steam Controller, Robin Walker, a veteran coder and designer who's been working on the device for three years, explained that Valve has been trying to make its hardware "more like software." 

According to Walker, the design team tried to visualize the controller as a piece of physical software - something innately flexible that could be adjusted and tweaked at will.

“We’re very interested in trying to make hardware more like software. With a traditional controller, people think of it as a solely physical object: you build the hardware, you build a thumbstick and the thumbstick says ‘I’m being pressed right’, and that information goes to the game," said Walker. 

"But there’s actually a huge software layer that’s doing a lot of work: how you interpret and filter for things like my thumb slipping off the pad; or if you want a character to move sideways, well, the reality is no one moves their thumb perfectly horizontally, so how do you adjust for that? It’s all software work.”

Most companies, says Walker, design hardware and ask players to bend to its needs. With the Steam Controller, Valve sought to do the opposite, allowing players to improve the device and shape it in their own image. 

“Our games are better today because we have created many channels, like Steam itself, where communities can get their hands on software and improve it,” says Walker. “A lot of the thinking behind Steam was: how does the internet make you better?

“This can be the same for hardware. We have a bunch of ideas on how to create those channels."

For more on the subject check out The Guardian's full interview

Latest Jobs

Xbox Game Studios

Redmond, Washington
10.5.22
Technical Lighting Artist

Innogames

Hamburg, Germany
10.5.22
Game Designer - Elvenar

Six Foot

Houston, TX
10.3.22
Six Foot Director, Player Relations

Hometopia Inc.

Remote
10.7.22
Lead Engineer
More Jobs   

CONNECT WITH US

Explore the
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer Newsletter

@gamedevdotcom

Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Browse
Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Subscribe
Follow us

@gamedevdotcom

Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more