Have you ever felt limited being sat at your PC, wishing you could just take your gaming to another room or even get out in the sun and play some games (just not physical)!? Summertime is upon us and I know I would like to see the outdoors a bit more. Well gamers need not stay dormant in their rooms any longer…..not until 2015 at least anyway!
Steamboy Machine project is a portable gaming device aiming to deliver your PC library on the go. With its PS Vita style form-factor, it should be very ergonomic in the hands with a nice sized 5 inch 16:9 screen, you can be sure that you won’t be lugging around a Steam Box type machine with a screen attached.
Currently, the only evidence we have of this controller is a pre-rendered preview showcasing the device found here and some specs from Steamboy who were contacted by Escapist Magazine. The device, as it stands now, will feature a “Quad-core CPU, 4GB RAM, a 32GB built-in memory card, and a 5” 16:9 touchscreen”, some very good specs for a portable device.
The most interesting design of the device is the use of Valves Steam Controller type layout, including the two track pads with built haptic feedback. Now I Know that a lot of PC gamers do not like the idea of switching to a controller and prefer the superior mouse + keyboard combo. But if we see the current features of the aforementioned steam controller; programmable buttons, more free-range movement, clickable haptic pads and boasted natural movement controls, maybe it won’t be so bad? They must have some confidence to scrap the original analogue stick type controls and go with a still work-in-progress controller layout. If the controller gets another setback, then so will this.
What I Want to See From This Device
Typically PC gaming is a storage heavy hobby; 32GB of built-in storage (without subtractions of operating system space) will not fit the heaviest of Steam games on the device. Unless developers reduce game sizes specifically for this device (I highly doubt), then we are going to have to stick to lower sized games or hopefully include expandable storage up to 128GB SD cards.
I am fairly confident that this device will come with an AMD quad-core processor with on board graphics to cut down the cost, size, and weight. But its quite obvious regardless of which manufacturers chipset we see, there will be a significant downgrade to visuals compared to your current gaming PC. I would be interested to see if there was a slider option from performance to quality like we have seen in Steam Box’s.
Just like Steam’s current free In-Home Streaming feature which you can stream to any other in home PC with a processor which supports H264 decoding. I would expect that this feature would be implemented to the Steamboy. This would have its pros and cons:
- Better looking games due to the main processing & encoding being done on your gaming PC before streaming,
- No storage space being taken up on the Steamboy.
- Mobile gaming with “Remote Play” like we see on the PS Vita and PS4
- You would need a pretty strong reliable internet connection for low latency; lag is a factor which may occur. Because of this frame rate may be affected.
- Wi-Fi distance limitations,
- You will see a downscale in resolution, unless Steamboy release the device with a 1080p display which I doubt due to the very unlikely chance you could notice the difference on a 5” display. See below for why these restrictions could be reduced/removed.
HMDI Out with additional 4 x Controller Support
The NVIDIA Shield has a very good selling point. You can hook up an HDMI cable straight to your TV and add an additional 360 controller with a cable, Kyco Playpad Pro or a MOGA Pro controller wireless so that you won’t have to hold the device near you with two screens simultaneously playing and an HDMI lead sticking out of the side. You set it down, put the screen down and use it in console mode. Imagine plugging in an HMDI in to your big living room TV, attaching 4 Steam Controllers and playing a 4 player co-op (hopefully wireless) from your huge steam library.
Steam to Steamboy Transfer
Having the option to install your games through your PC, or games that already exist, then transfer to your Steamboy, including saved game data etc. This way you wouldn’t need to be too obsessed with the storage size as you could use your PC games you already have and just transfer back and forth.
No Proprietary Connectors
Please just use the universal micro USB! Unless it’s going to be using a USB 3.0 type connector for big game file transfers. Another reason would be to add an OTG adapter to add additional accessories i.e. Ethernet port connector or even add a keyboard and mouse.
Look, I like portable gaming devices; I just don’t use them too much. I very rarely use them out of the house. I only see kids playing them and not many adults will sit on a bus playing Skyrim…mainly because they would probably miss their stop. But still, I think we are looking for a more portable device which is reliable to play elsewhere and stop the limitations of gaming in one designated room. I like the idea and I really want it to succeed.