A decade of virtual battle commentary behind him, Corey Dunn is one of the most popular shoutcasters in existence. We grabbed hold of this Texas-born commentator at gamescom after one of his daily BF4 live stream events to discuss Battlefield 4 multiplayer, the art of shoutcasting, and how to keep track of 64 players immersed in all-out war.
Welcome to Cologne, Corey! Last time we saw you was at the massive BF4 E3 live stream. What’s new in the live stream here at gamescom?
- Good to be here. At gamescom, we’re going to look at the new game mode Obliteration, we’re going back to Conquest and from there we’ll dive down deep in all the changes that have happened, like Spectator Mode. The thing I’m personally looking forward to is to see the jets in action. I want to see some great dog fights!
Corey interviews DICE Creative Director Lars Gustavsson in the gamescom 2013 live stream.
Can you explain shoutcasting for those who don’t know what it is?
- It’s interesting where the term “shoutcaster” comes from. People keep wondering “why don’t they just call them broadcasters?” The term actually came from a Winamp plugin called Shoutcast in the early 2000′s. In the beginning, shoutcasters just used to do internet radio, and that’s how things kind of formulated.
When did you realise you could earn a living being a shoutcaster?
- I went to a competitive gaming event called CBL 2003; one of the first big events I experienced. When I got there I started hearing these announcers doing play-by-play and I thought “what the hell was that?” I searched and searched for the source of the voices, and finally found this small, 10 by 10 booth, where some older guys were doing live commentary for internet radio. I found out the name of the station and really thought the whole thing was awesome. Later I saw saw a commercial where someone was looking for shoutcasters, so I sent in an audio demo. Their answer was “well, you’ve got a voice to work with.” And yes, I really just had a voice at that time, but I’ve grown since then.
So how did you improve from having “a voice to work with” to being a great shoutcaster?
- When I started out, there was no video to go with the audio. Therefore, I had to paint a picture of what happened in the game for the listener and that allowed me to build my skill set. If you go back to some of my earlier demos, I was nowhere near where I am today. I had a squeakier voice, I didn’t know my cadence, my speed, or my pacing. Usually, in the beginning, some shoutcasters are really fast and don’t know when to stop. I’ve learned to pace myself, to tell a story and have a climax in it.
Welcome to Paracel Storm, the water-based map that’s playable in both Conquest and Obliteration mode at gamescom.
What separates your line of work from that of a regular sports commentator?
- Speed is one of the interesting things here. I’ve done college sports for basketball and soccer, but video games are faster. It’s all about pacing. Games allow you to be intense, to be this voice-over or movie announcer, to build up the hype for the audience. It’s about over-analyzing the situation so the viewers at home really can understand the intricacies of what’s going on.
How does a huge live venue like gamescom affect the overall experience?
- The great thing about something like this is the actual vibe around you. People often ask me “does a shoutcaster really have to be at an event?” I truly believe so. It’s about being there with the players and with the audience; you feed off of all that around you. You’ll talk about what’s happening in the game, but also what’s happening outside of it.
You’ve spent over a decade on the Battlefield, both shoutcasting and playing. In terms of competitive gaming, what element in Battlefield 4 excites you the most?
- It has to be the spectator mode, and all the different features in it. Daniel Matros [producer] has worked really hard to provide what competitive gamers really need: an overview to see all parts of the map, and knowing exactly where the battles are happening. That’s the hardest part of spectating a game like Battlefield: there are simply so many different kinds of players out there. Both me and the fans want to see those cinematic highlights in different angles – the helicopters, the naval battles, and so on. There are moments when I get completely lost in what happens on the screen.
That’s how you know you’ve had a Battlefield Moment.
- (Laughs) Right, exactly!
What game modes in Battlefield 4 work best for commentating?
- One of the things with shoutcasting – and even in sports – is that you need players with personality. That means you have to narrow down the number of players that are there. So close quarters combat and a mode like Defuse in BF4 is good for that. I’m also interested in what’s possible with Obliteration; the idea to have a bomb and take it to different places, that kind of tug of war between two teams, it’s kind of a meta game that goes into that. It will be cool to see how it will evolve over time.
64 players running and gunning, driving vehicles and triggering epic Levolution moments… How do you cover all that chaos in a live stream?
- Those things certainly make shoutcasting a lot more dynamic. The main thing that happens in 32 vs 32 is that it becomes more about the squad as a whole, not individual soldiers. Overall, you’re going to capture the battle as opposed to the individual gunfights. That’s one of the reasons Battlefield has been one of the best games for team play for ten years. I remember playing it when I was 15 years old, and how well I communicated with my team mates.
Do you have any tips for aspiring shoutcasters out there?
- It’s important to keep the passion. That’s why people get into it: because they love it and want to share something with others. Forget about the fame, forget about the money – when you start focusing about things like that you’re becoming a mundane shoutcaster.
One final question before we leave you to shoutcast Paracel Storm in Conquest and Obliteration mode here at gamescom: are you Prepared 4 Battle?
- I’m not only prepared for battle, I’m ready for all-out war!
Corey Dunn and fellow shoutcaster Alex Mendez will be live streaming Battlefield 4 every day of gamescom. Catch their commentary, in-depth analyses, and developer interviews starting daily at 5:15AM PDT / 2:15PM CEST.
Pre-order Battlefield 4 Digital Deluxe Edition from Origin to get into the exclusive Battlefield 4 Beta starting early October.