Karsten Obarski is a former 16-bit computer game composer, best known for creating the MOD format.
In 1981, Obarski happened upon a friend's Commodore PET 2001. After weeks on its built-in BASIC, he wanted his own computer, got a VIC 20 for Christmas and programmed games in BASIC, some of which he states were published as type-ins in several magazines. Soon after, he bought a Commodore 64, kept tinkering in machine code and assembler, arranged on C-Lab SuperTrack (and its predecessor) connected to his synthesizers, and on Soundmonitor. He was never taught to play an instrument. After his third C64 broke, he considered buying a Commodore 128D but ended up buying an Amiga 1000 with 256 KB RAM around early 1987, expanded to at least 512 by late 1987.
While Obarski was getting started in Amiga music, a friend asked him to score his game Amegas (AMI). Obarski then scored more games for local publisher reLINE Software, their sister company Rainbow Arts, two for EAS Software, and one for Coma or Amiga Fun. On June 14, 1989, he explained how to wire a joystick into the PC Engine. He co-designed Window Wizard and programmed the DOS version. In 1991, he gave ideas for Sonic Arranger. Sometime after early 1992, he left reLINE in dispute with founder Holger Gehrmann. In January 1993, he promised a big surprise for audiophile owners of an Amiga, Mega Drive and Super Magic Drive.
Obarski likes especially Queen, Genesis, Electric Light Orchestra, some from Backstreet Boys, Shaggy, Sash!, Jean-Michel Jarre, mostly harmony and instrumentals; on computers, Martin Galway, Rob Hubbard, Chris Hülsbeck, game programmer Jeff Minter; among MODs, Hymn to Rob, some by Phenomena, and among his own, Oil Imperium (AMI), the title and in-game songs of Dyter-07 (AMI), tankscores, and "track 3" of Rotator (AMI). He dislikes techno, hip hop, and his early "poor" MODs.
As of 2001, Obarski works in electronics, occasionally writing test programs. He composes using Cakewalk on a PC, just for fun, jamming or covering his gameography. He prefers "silly" synthesized sounds over samples. He stated to have covered Phenomena's aforementioned MODs on his keyboards in 1992. Other hobbies are his wife, friends, old house and motorbikes.
In July 2012, Obarski posted a song on YouTube, telling how he wished to contact Gehrmann, only to learn he had jumped to his death. On SoundClick, he posted a song about his life changes and his performance of 500 Miles. He also commented on at least two videos of his game music and was on Facebook, but later disabled comments on his own video and deleted all accounts around November 22, 2015.
Obarski arranged using his own software and samples. Initially, that was The Ultimate Soundtracker on an Amiga 1000. He sampled from his Yamaha DX21, most likely as his documentation said. In Crystal Hammer, Rallye Master and Sarcophaser, he hid the text:
** Here waz the Muzak Wizzard and his SoundTracker II at work **
The content of this section should be improved.
|1987-11-??||Crystal Hammer (AMI)|
|1987-11-??||The Ultimate Soundtracker (AMI)|
|1987-??-??||Rallye Master (AMI)|
|1988-0?-??||Future Tank (AMI)|
|1989-0?-??||Oil Imperium (AMI)|
|1989-0?-??||Oil Imperium (C64)||Arranged by Holger Gehrmann.|
|1989-??-??||Oil Imperium (AST)||Arranged by Holger Gehrmann.|
|1990-0?-??||Dyter-07 (AMI)||Arranged at least one song from Dyter-07 (C64).|
|1990-0?-??||Window Wizard (AST)||"Music Compilation". Composed by Matthias Steinwachs.|
|1990-0?-??||Window Wizard (DOS)||Unconfirmed. Credited for game programming only.|
|1991-0?-??||Fate - Gates of Dawn (AMI)||With Matthias Steinwachs.|
|1991-06-27||Project 1 (AMI)|
The Karsten Obarski Tribute Project, February 4, 2001.
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,173359/ - MobyGames.
- bitfellas.org/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.211 - Interview from February 1, 1993.
- amp.dascene.net/detail.php?view=3982&detail=interview - Interview from December 9, 2001.