Andrew Dieffenbach, a.k.a. puzzud, is a professional software developer by day, and an indie game developer by night. We have chatted with him about his relation with M.U.L.E. in general and the development of M.U.L.E. Online in particular.
WoM: What’s your first memory of M.U.L.E.?
Andrew: I remember playing M.U.L.E. with my older brother when I was four or five years old. I remember his advice to me was to save two more units than the surplus shown during an auction. I think that kept younger me having fairly safe & comfortable games.
WoM: How did M.U.L.E. influence your life so much that you went all the way from “just being a fan” to “developing an officially Ozark Softscape endorsed version” of the game? [tournament gaming anecdotes; legacy of the game, your motivation as a developer, …]
Andrew: When I started dabbling with game development I recall simply using the M.U.L.E. species graphics for sprites, with no other intent. During college, I introduced my friends to the game and I had something of a M.U.L.E. renaissance–previously, I had enjoyed the game but then with the help of my friends, we mastered it. The excitement around it drove me to want to remake it. I think the set of people who have or attempted to deliver a M.U.L.E. remake want to keep it alive and share it with other people.
WoM: What were your design goals for the game? [primary/secondary; “most important feature of the original”, …]
Andrew: Fidelity and accessibility. Before any improvements, it must feel like M.U.L.E..
WoM: How long did development take, and what was your biggest challenge?
Andrew: I am almost embarrassed to say that it has been an on and off project of mine for twenty years. Every time a different remake drops, I put it on a shelf. After a while I realize that there is still work to be done. I think the level of accuracy I insist on having has made development very tedious and laborious.
WoM: M.U.L.E. Online resembles the Atari version; has this always been your favourite version, and if not what has changed over the years? [C64/Atari differences, decision to use Atari for M.U.L.E. Online …]
Andrew: Absolutely not. I grew up with a Commodore 64. The Atari version better accommodates four human players. I consider the Commodore 64 version to be an update and superior in almost every way. For the most part, M.U.L.E. Online is visually Atari and audibly & mechanically Commodore 64. However, the Atari version makes use of its four sound channels in ways the Commodore 64 could not do; which I plan to incorporate eventually, given that I am not actually targeting those systems.
WoM: What are your future plans with M.U.L.E. Online?
Andrew: Classic M.U.L.E. is great for us hardcore fans but I would like to enhance it further to be more approachable. What comes of it will be largely based upon feedback from the M.U.L.E. community.
WoM: Thanks very much for the time talking with us. All the best!
Wow. You made it to:
of the 40th anniversary special.
But it is only the end for now, 2023. Who knows what the 50th Anniversary will bring! 🙂
Thanks for keeping up reading this special report.
And for being (or now: becoming?) a fan of M.U.L.E..
Best regards and keep on M.U.L.E.’ing,
Christian A. Schiller
World of M.U.L.E. Curator, serving the M.U.L.E. community since August 1997