The Vintage Gamer #14: M.U.L.E. (VG)

   Posted by: Jim   in Computer games, Podcasts

This week, Dani Bunten Berry’s M.U.L.E, a multiplayer classic of the 1980s computer game era. Develop, trade, consume, make a buck and crush your friends! All this and a nifty musical theme…

Show notes:

M.U.L.E. Links:

Final Thoughts:

One correction: I stated that Dani Bunten gave a keynote speech at CGDC 1997 — it was actually a lecture in 1997. However, she received a lifetime achievement award in 1998 and was gone a few months later. I had an opportunity to go to that CGDC — I should have taken it.

Another correction: I also stated that she might be pleased with the fact that you can play via emulators. Given that neither she nor her heirs see a dime from that, probably not. I also read that one major reason she wanted to republish M.U.L.E. was to update the graphics (Sega wanted to do it, but also wanted to add guns — she said no). So again, probably not. Still, it’s pretty much the only way to play these days, unfortunately.

Also, I believe I said that the auction interface was “wonky.” Upon consideration, it’s actually quite elegant, in that you can have a real-time auction amongst four players with a very simple interface. Trying to think about how you’d implement that in a face-to-face situation makes that quite clear…

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 14th, 2006 at 7:51 pm and is filed under Computer games, Podcasts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 comments so far


Beautiful, and something I had never heard of! Thanks a lot…

June 18th, 2006 at 4:07 am

Great podcast. I wiled away hours and hours with this game on my Atari 800 back in the 80’s. Sweet sweet memories. Correction: you don’t need to have a MULE to hunt the Wampus.

Now do a podcast Archon. I demand it!

June 19th, 2006 at 7:52 pm
Joey Konyha

Thank you for the great podcast on the greatest game ever created! I listened and remembered many of the great times I had playing this game. However, I do have to point a few things out.

-The mountain wampus could be caught without a mule as bait. The reward increased as the game went on.

-The different races had slight differences in either mining, (the Bonzoid) or farming (the smiling pac-man looking guy, who’s name escapes me.) One other handicap for the human was they went through food very fast. Usually you could get a mule on two plots and still hit the pub. The human could get only one, two if the were VERY close, and you didn’t go to the pub.

-The price of a mule was twice the price the at which the store would buy smithore. I _think_ it took two smithore to produce one mule.

-Any attempt to put a mining mule on the river would result in a lost mule.

-There were only a few layouts as far as the mountains/chrystite fields were placed. Played enough times, you could memorize where the chrystite was.

-You had mentioned that the computer players were experts at resourse management. I have to disagree somewhat. In the C64 version, the computer would overcompensate for shortages or prices. This would involve heavy mining of smithore in the begining, and then heavy chrystite mining later in the game. If there is a high price to a resourse, the computer will remove and reoutfit mules to overproduce a resourse, shrinking their reserves. This can be bad if you rely on their surplus of the resourse that is no longer produced.

Those are just my top-of the head thoughts. Oh, and thank you for putting the theme song at the end. I am embarassed to admit that as much as I love the theme, it was a few beats into it that I recognized it.

Keep the great podcasts coming. A few requests:

Seven Cities of Gold

Thanks again,
Joey Konyha

June 19th, 2006 at 10:56 pm

Wow, two requests for Archon in one thread… guess I’ll look into that. I’ll probably include it as part of my “spicing up Chess” show.

And thanks for the corrections. I felt I was missing a few items from my coverage of M.U.L.E. and I was planning a patch-up for the next show. Your comments help a lot.

June 20th, 2006 at 4:45 am

A very enjoyable podcast — however I do have one comment which, while on a pretty inconsequential point, I think does bear repeating.

The Apple Macintosh, so far as I know, was not introduced to supersede or replace the Apple II family, which continued to be manufactured and sold even into the 90s. The Apple IIc, IIcPlus, and the IIGS were all introduced after 1984, and as far as I can tell were intended to be parallel product lines to the Macs.

I have many fond memories of my Apple IIGS, which I bought in 1987, and while I never played M.U.L.E., I did play many other games which I’m sure you’ll be covering in the future.

Just a little technical clarification.

June 21st, 2006 at 12:55 pm

I was so excited when you announced your mule show! excellent job the only thing I had to add has already been mentioned by others about wampus hunting.

seeing the board game links has prompted me to download qule to possibly try out.

are there any published board games that you know of that rely heavily on the mule play style/sequence?

June 22nd, 2006 at 8:26 am

Raphael: Good point. I started using a Mac from the early days, so from my single-minded point of view I forgot that the Apple II line continued for a while after that.

Weezoh: Amun Re sort of has the M.U.L.E. play sequence in that you auction off areas of the board in a semi-concurrent fashion, then produce goods, which allow you to develop your current spaces and buy new ones, etc. Power Grid kind of has that too, but in that case you’re auctioning off the means to develop your land (the power plants) instead of the land itself. There are other games, I’m sure, but I can’t think of any more off hand. I doubt that any of their playstyle came from M.U.L.E. directly.

July 8th, 2006 at 6:21 pm

[…] time listeners will remember my very early review of M.U.L.E. Well, there’s another version out there, this time at http://www.planetmule.com/. I […]

January 11th, 2010 at 7:47 pm

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