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Classic Games (Games) Games

M.U.L.E. Is Back 110

jmp_nyc writes "The developers at Turborilla have remade the 1983 classic game M.U.L.E. The game is free, and has slightly updated graphics, but more or less the same gameplay as the original version. As with the original game, up to four players can play against each other (or fewer than four with AI players taking the other spots). Unlike the original version, the four players can play against each other online. For those of you not familiar with M.U.L.E., it was one of the earliest economic simulation games, revolving around the colonization of the fictitious planet Irata (Atari spelled backwards). I have fond memories of spending what seemed like days at a time playing the game, as it's quite addictive, with the gameplay seeming simpler than it turns out to be. I'm sure I'm not the only Slashdotter who had a nasty M.U.L.E. addiction back in the day and would like a dose of nostalgia every now and then."
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M.U.L.E. Is Back

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  • by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @04:16AM (#30691848)

    Just downloaded it....COOL...but where's the intro and intro music??? It was 8-bit sweetness on the C=64.

    Glad somebody did it though!

  • by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @04:17AM (#30691868) []

    Some of the best home computer music of the time. This song is the number 1 reason I fire up SIDplay (followed closely by many things by David Whittaker).

    • And I'm sure the young'n's will be looking at us like we have three heads. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I always preferred the Atari 800 version of the music-

      • Yeah, the Atari version was the king. The sounds were awesome. I can't even tell you how many hours my sister and I wasted playing that game back in the day...
        • >Yeah, the Atari version was the king
          Yep. One of many games that these days are always attributed to the C64 but were actually ports from the Atari 800 or the Atari 800 version came first.
          • Yes, the Atari version was first. A great deal of the game's design was dictated by the limitations and strengths of the hardware (4 players, the arrangement of mountains, etc). Dan Bunten, M.U.L.E.'s creator, deftly exploited almost every feature that made the Atari 8-bits great.

        • That sounds great too, it might even be better from some objective level. But it's just not what I'm used to so it sounds funny to me. I always wanted an Atari 800, but you can't always get what you want.

          The trills in the final segment sound discordant to me.

          And to the other poster:
          I knew the game came from the 800, the 800 was the only machine which had 4 joystick play (on the C64 two players had to use the keyboard during trading). But the C64 version is what's familiar to me.

      • by Torodung ( 31985 )

        OMG. It's the sound of "humanization" (tones are slightly off here and there to sound less machine-like). This is some great nostalgia.

        I had a C=64, but I always envied the four joysticks of the Atari 800 series. We got stuck using keys for collusion.


    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Atari original, played at NTSC rate, with more harmony (4-voice sound chip):

    • by daha ( 1699052 )

      I couldn't agree more. Any mention of the word "mule" and I start hearing that music. It's a shame that it isn't in this version.

    • Dude, Parallax. Parallax, Dude. Martin Galway. []

      M.U.L.E. sucks.

    • I was bored a few years ago, and transcribed the tune out. I did very little else to it other than picks some sounds that they might have used in the first place. So, it's only a four-voice tune, representative of the hardware of the time. It would be easy to fill out and make it thicker, but part of the charm of the tune that it sounds good, with such a limited sound technology. Enjoy [].
  • Used to play M.U.L.E. on the Atari 800.... downloading it now :)
    • by antek9 ( 305362 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @08:44AM (#30693110)
      I played it on the C64. This game set the ground for turn-based strategy and sim games, and it is just incredible to learn that it never sold more than 30,000 copies. And yet, _everybody_ was playing it. Today's piracy 'problems' are nothing compared to that.

      If Dani Bunten were still alive I'm sure lots of people would be glad to donate quite some amount of money to make up for lost and long time overdue revenue.
      • by Coz ( 178857 )

        I was working in the first computer store in my hometown and bought it (using my wages - heh). This and Archon... I lost entire weeks to the two of them.

  • I spent a lot of time playing this on the NES. I don't suppose this version includes the cheesy computer voices though?
  • I've read many times how big an affect it had on games, but I don't really care for Sim type games...
    So I ask my (MUCH) older fellow geeks, is this really worth the time to learn to play it?

    • by thred ( 203074 )

      It is more like a table top game than a simulation. Easy to learn, hard to master...

    • by Jhon ( 241832 )

      I can't answer that for you. I've played it fairly consistantly since it's release (I'm 42 now). It's addictive -- and particularly fun against human players.

      I think the hardest part you'd have with the game is that it's TURN based -- which means you sit and wait while the 3 other players take their turns (auction not withstanding).

    • If you want to understand modern gaming's roots, then yes.

  • by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:17AM (#30692130) Homepage
    ...not Dan Bunten. She made it clear.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Someone posted some links to a couple pages, one of them Wikipedia. That page then linked to this one and honestly, I'd say she didn't make it as clear as you think she did.

      • Genitals are not the same as gender identification. One can identify as female and still have male genitals, just as one can identify as male and have female genitals.

        She's not saying that she regrets changing her name and assuming her gender identity. She's saying that she regrets changing her genitals.

        • Dani did say, among other things, that she regretted having non-orgasmic genitals and that some of her family abandoned her due to her transition. If she really regretted transitioning, wouldn't she have transitioned back? (Which she didn't...)
      • You have no clue.
  • by Tei ( 520358 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:53AM (#30692306) Journal

    I play the planetMule version of MULE, and I can confirm that is still a awesome game. MULE has this ability to make you play crazy in 2 turns, 3 turns... Is a deep game, and you meet different skills and ideas about how to play. The planetMULE version is both tryiing to make a faithfull version (and is a SUCCESS as that), and make tiny improvements that don't change the gameplay.


  • What a great game and great remake. The updated graphics are actually a little easier to make out than the original.

  • by slim ( 1652 ) <john@h a r t n u p . n et> on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:21AM (#30692666) Homepage [] ... although development appears to have stalled in 1997.

  • 64k - 36Mb (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:35AM (#30692738)

    This was one of my favorite games in college on the C-64. I expected to find a slim flash game, instead it's a 36Mb installer (Win). A bit better on Max/Linux (16Mb), but still, WTF? I'm guessing these guys used to make printer drivers for HP.

    • by Tei ( 520358 )

      The filesize is very small for nowdays standards, but has nowdays features. Flash games, true, use much less space, but because most are optimized to get downloaded from the net, so 26+ megs will not do it.

      The features that these 36 megs provide are way beyond what you can get with a simple Flash game.

  • Kudos (Score:4, Informative)

    by lyinhart ( 1352173 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:42AM (#30692776)
    Kudos to them for releasing it as freeware, as opposed to releasing it onto a DRM enabled platform like Steam or worse, Xbox Live.
  • by Tei ( 520358 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:57AM (#30692846) Journal

    MULE is a strategic economic simulator for 4 players. A long game (12 turns) take about 90 minutes.

    The first thing you will see wen you join, is the surface of the planet. The surface is divided into "plots", that later can be taken by the players. You will put "mules" (multi use labor element robots) in these plots to craft raw metal (smithore), precious luxuries (cristite), energy or food. Your mules to work need energy, you need food or you will be unable to manage your mules.

    First phase, a cursor move trough the planet, simply pressing space take a plot. The "river" plots are specially good for food, the desert for energy, and the mountains for smithore.

    Next phase, the players move his character, and have the option to take a mule, and move it to a specialization house (energy, food, smithore...) then move that mule to his plot, and press space again to place the mule.

    After all players have placed his mules, theres a "production" phase. You will produce based on your mule type, type of terrain, and some economy of scale bonus.

    Next phase is selling/buying. You need to secure energy, if you don't have, and food, if you want to place mules.

    The tournamente mode (somewhat like the 'full experience') is 12 complete turns of this. With some random bonus and malus events for the players.

    The game is some sort of economic sandbox, most people "play to win", but is possible to "play to make the colony a success".

    More info: []

    • Next phase is selling/buying. You need to secure energy, if you don't have, and food, if you want to place mules.

      I loved the way they implemented the commodity trading phase! Each player first chooses to buy or sell, then the sellers appear at the top of the screen and the buyers at the bottom. Sellers can move down (lowering their price), buyers move up (raising the bid), and when the highest bidder meets the lowest seller in the middle, they begin trading until they run out of money or goods, or until

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      Sounds a bit like Settlers of Catan, a game a few friends and I use to play on a weekly basis. I'll have to try it out when I get home.
    • by Rhys ( 96510 )

      In particular it needs to be pointed out that "play to win" often means "play to make the colony a success." In the old 8-bit versions where it kept a consistent high score, you would always get a better personal score by being (mostly) a team player than being a selfish twit. That isn't to say you can't be selfish sometimes and do better but if selling energy to Mr. Smithore computer player nets the colony more MULEs it needs it can be worth it even at a loss.

    • I'm trying to play an A.I. game but after grabbing some land it just keeps looping turns for each player, where there's only enough time to run to the pub and grab some cash. How do you get the game to actually continue to the next part of the round?

      • *doo-dooo-DOOOOOO-doooooooo* Your colony needs food!
        • Ok, but how do I get food if all I can do each turn is run to the pub?

          I'm accumulating money, but I don't seem to have time to spend it.

          Anyways I'll try that.. :) Thanks.

  • Hmm... If it uses lwjgl, its java based... so why not just have a downloadable and executable jar?

    Still, gives lax coders like me hope.

  • Lessons from M.U.L.E (Score:4, Informative)

    by IceCreamGuy ( 904648 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @08:39AM (#30693074) Homepage
    I think we, as a community, can learn a lot from the ancient and wise game:
    • Catch the Mountain Wampus for mod points
    • Press all player buttons to post first
    • Develop a cutthroat economy where a single asshole player can collapse the entire system

    OK so maybe some aspects of the game are more plausible than others.

    -Purple Mechtron

    • by Stavr0 ( 35032 )

      I think we, as a community, can learn a lot from the ancient and wise game ...

      If you go to the pub to gamble, you always win something.

  • Another version (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Manax ( 41161 ) <{gro.xanam} {ta} {todhsals-letreot}> on Friday January 08, 2010 @09:16AM (#30693322) Homepage
    I personally did a port (download here []) of an earlier rewrite (though the site I got it from is gone) back in 2005. It's a pretty decent version, as far as I can tell, though honestly I didn't play the original hardly at all. The main drawback is local multiplayer only...
    • by Manax ( 41161 )
      Oops, sorry for replying to my own thread, but that's a _linux_ & SDL port that I did, based on the earlier DOS version. Not exactly clean code, but it worked (at least back in 2005) and is GPLed.
  • M.U.L.E. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @09:39AM (#30693502) Journal

    Rose-Colored nostalgia, +1.

    Yes, I played MULE. I also played Doom, and going before that I played Empire, Sword of Aragon, Ancient Art of War, Star Viking, Star Raiders, Wizardry, Ultima, and Oregon Trail (on a MECC line terminal) as well as a host of other games that are stored fondly in my nostalgia-vault as 'awesome games'.

    But do you know what? My suggestion is DON'T PLAY THEM AGAIN. Like watching the original Star Wars, the memory of "greatness" is tied inextricably with context - the state of tech of the time, my age, and the whole novelty of the thing. They don't age very well.

    Go to the abondonware sites, you can (thankfully) find all these games - play them, and then you can (if you're honest) admit "Meh, this is unappealing". Yes, diehards will whinge about 'gameplay over graphics' and to a point that's true; but ultimately that's not the whole story - there are a heck of a lot of advances in things other than graphics that go a LONG way toward making a game fun: credible AI that's not easily gamed, UI usability, ease of patching, online play, and (usually) a whole host of rationalizations that we accepted at the time because it was such a huge step forward from where we'd been, and it was cool just to be using a computer in the FIRST place.

    I'm not saying that these games weren't great IN THEIR TIME. They were. But, like these ancient much-remembered games, just because my grandpa was cool doesn't mean I need to drag his corpse out and re-animate him today because I've got no ideas of my own.

    • M.U.L.E has a gameplay that is more like a boardgame though. I just played this version and I have to say that, like many popular boardgames, it has aged very well. There are many strategies and simple rules. Not to mention the catchiest damned theme-song I've ever heard (thankfully this version included it!).
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Going back and watching Star Wars (the real one, not the 1997 CGI-fest), the only thing that seems really cheesy now as an adult is some of the dialogue and Mark Hamill's poor acting. The movie holds up surprisingly well, considering the time it was made (only the hairstyles and Han's vest give it away).
    • Like watching the original Star Wars,

      Actually the whole original Star Wars trilogy holds up very well. That's the benefit of having a very strong design-- since your design isn't tied to the contemporary styles, it'll still be current long after the bell bottoms have been relegated to the junkheap.

      For a counter-example, see Star Trek: The Movie. You can tell what decade it was made in 10 seconds.

      • by chill ( 34294 )

        I'm sorry, but I can't imagine a universe where "Ewoks" hold up well. The entire idea seemed like Lucas took a fucked up childhood dream about teddy bears and ran with it. He even went so far as having the teddy bears getting together to brush out Leia's long hair. Talk about sexually repressed childhood fantasies! The entire 3rd movie was nothing but a cry for help by Lucas!

    • I think MULE is the exception, because the game play is timeless. MULE is not to be measured by the modern game benchmarks of fps, in-game advertisements and number of frags.

      Also, there is something to learn from the early good games as far as creating engaging gaming (as opposed to fps and fragging). Play a game like Atari's Adventure. Although it is simplistic, short, and pretty lame compared to something like Drake's Fortune, it's good to understand how game development evolves based on the constraints p

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by edmicman ( 830206 )

      I dunno, I played Oregon Trail semi-recently and found it still to be engaging and entertaining. And what about classics like Tetris or Dr. Mario? Some of those old games I see similar to Monoply, chess, checkers, etc. Games that are fundamentally fun no matter how old they are.

    • by JoeWalsh ( 32530 )

      That's a pretty broad statement, isn't it?

      I think video games are like any other product, in that most of them aren't going to stand the test of time -- but some will. Take movies, for instance. For every "timeless classic" that we still enjoy watching 50 years after it came out, there were a hundred or more that deserve to rot in some film vault.

      It's the same with video games.

      Pac-Man, Tetris, and Galaga will always be good games.

      As for M.U.L.E., it always appealed to only a subset of gamers. It's about

    • by oh2 ( 520684 )
      Meh, one of the best games ever is "Colonial Conquest" from SSI. Its the reason that I have an Atari ST emulator on my desktop, because when the urge to conquer sets in the only thing that satisfys is a game from 1988.
      • Meh, one of the best games ever is "Colonial Conquest" from SSI. Its the reason that I have an Atari ST emulator on my desktop, because when the urge to conquer sets in the only thing that satisfys is a game from 1988.

      • Meh, one of the best games ever is "Colonial Conquest" from SSI. Its the reason that I have an Atari ST emulator on my desktop, because when the urge to conquer sets in the only thing that satisfys is a game from 1988.

        Pascal Bringer (Kroah) is currently beta testing a Windows version that plays like the original without the bugs. It will be good, this guy knows what he's doing and loves his work.

        Go here immediately. []

        (screwed up my tags the first time)

    • I just spent a few hours playing the NES version of MULE with a few friends while snowed in a few weeks ago. It was just as great as ever. Some of the games you mention really haven't aged well; this is not the case for MULE at all.

      I was a little disappointed by some of the gameplay changes in this new version. They were so close to having a perfect remake, then changed some things that I shift the gameplay balance in a way I didn't think was an improvement. If you're going to try and remake a game this

    • "There are a heck of a lot of advances in things other than graphics ... [such as] AI ... UI ... online play ..."

      I think you'll find a many of those developments are part of Planet MULE.

      And no matter how much you winge about people having fun, you can't stop them by trolling about it on Slashdot.

    • by Angvaw ( 992553 )

      MULE never gets old. I've been playing since not long after getting out of diapers, and now I'm changing my own kid's diaper (no not while typing). MULE never left. Well, to be fair it wasn't as good around the late 90s up until PlanetMULE, because it was hard to get any friends to play on emulators...and when I tried the network play would always screw up, so I only played about once or twice per year. Still fun just not as good without the human element. Now I can play PlanetMULE with them, and there's ex

  • I still load this up in an emulator every once in a while. but it's hard to get the keys to work properly.... this makes me giddy with happiness.
  • Wow...M.U.L.E. is definitely one of my favorite games of all time.

    Remember playing it for hours and hours with friends in college.

    I remember M.U.L.E. being the place where I first learned about (and heard the word) "Collusion".

    Hunting the wumpus, trying to get the mountainous regions to get crystite...

    And the only true way to play was the long 90 minute 12 turn game.
  • That's all I have to say. One of the actual PURCHASED games I had for the C=64. Good Times.

    Gotta go hunt down a Wumpus.

  • OMG, the best video game in history is back!

    • Or, according to a lot of your posts, was never really gone, but at least it's now available on my OSX box without futzing around with arcade emulators...

  • IBM PCjr MULE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    only slightly off topic, but if you ever come across the version of MULE released for the IBM PCjr, waaaay back when, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make it available on the interwebnets. it is so incredibly rare and needs to be archived before it fades away forever.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      only slightly off topic, but if you ever come across the version of MULE released for the IBM PCjr, waaaay back when, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make it available on the interwebnets. it is so incredibly rare and needs to be archived before it fades away forever.

      I hope people saw that despite your AC posting, it really needed to be modded up more. This is the Holy Grail of M.U.L.E. disks. The lack of a ripped disk image of the PCjr version of M.U.L.E. represents an important and dismaying gap in the historical pr

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