The Playstation 4’s DS4 was by far the most advanced controller for the PC before Valve entered the game. DS4Windows (and other similar applications) bought Xinput support to the DS4, along with gyro/touchpad/lightbar implementations and a whole host of other binding options. When Valve introduced their Steam Controller [Amazon], they started out small and were met with rightful hesitation, but very quickly expanded it’s feature-set, eventually becoming the new king of customization.
Since the beginning I’ve said that with the approach taken by the Steam Controller, it cannot be a replacement for a traditional dual-analog gamepad; each has their own array of use cases. The two pair well, but with the lengths Valve have gone, one can’t help but feel the DS4 is trailing behind, rarely seeing updates from their hobbyist devs. Potentially incredible news today, Valve announced during a Steam Dev Days presentation that they’ll be pulling in the dinput Dualshock 4 under Steam Controller umbrella (API).
What does that mean? Well it’s largely up in their air based on their implementation, but there is a boatload of potential here. First off, I’ll likely only work with Steam running, while launching a title through your Steam library (owned or added as a non-steam app), as has been the case with the Steam Controller. They’ve stated they want to tackle the gyro and touchpad, but there’s substantial depth in that area beyond straightforward mapping, along with other considerations (multi-layered profiles w/ hold/toggle activation, analog translation to multiple outputs, double/triple tap, tap vs hold, various analog to mouse behaviors, sensitivity and activation points, steam menu/keyboard overlays, official and custom rumble behaviors, etc…). Many of these features/options are already implemented for the real Steam Controller; carrying them over shouldn’t be too much trouble.
While it is somewhat unlikely that they’ll be able to get audio output to the 3.5mm/speaker to work, as it seems to be something done specifically with Sony’s new wireless dongle, they should be able to get the lightbar working, but to what extent? In-game activation via the API, and what about the button activation and rainbow/pulsing/flashing effects we already have with DS4Windows?
Many ignore the DS4 in favor of Microsoft’s offerings, purely because they see “native” support of xinput as essential. But as I described in my piece on the DS4, all of these amazing features and possibilities are possible specifically because it only supports dinput instead, which in addition to the immediate need that caused developers to start working on it, can be hidden, manipulated, and then converted to xinput for universal use. Sony’s lack of effort in this respect might’ve caused inconvenience for some, but in the long run I assure you far more good will come of it. On that note though, I wonder how well they’ll handle hiding the dinput signal, which before more refined implementations of DS4Windows and others, was the cause of frustration in titles that supported both xinput and dinput. Finally, it was stated that support for other controllers is planned, but who knows to what extent and if they can manage to hide xinput properly.