Emails to WoM from the M.U.L.E. development team

from Jim Rushing

This is the mail I received from Jim Rushing on November 6th, 1997:

Nice MULE page. Cool to see it.

Jim Rushing, November 7th, 1997

My answer to Jim was a bit more extensive, but back then I did not get a reply anymore. Maybe if Jim stumbles upon it decades later, I might get one. 😉

Hello Jim!

Nice MULE page. Cool to see it.

It must be a great feeling that one of your games is still played extensively after almost 15 years, isn´t it? 🙂 I designed my page with the hope that younger player stumble upon it, see what a great game M.U.L.E. is and start playing it, too.

Anyway, thanks for your mental support; You´re maybe the 10th or 15th person who mails me regarding that page. And that means I didn´t design it for nothing. 🙂

It’s really unfortunate that EA dropped the M.U.L.E. conversions to other computers (like Deluxe M.U.L.E. for the Amiga or PC). But nowadays, with the internet growing and growing, it might be a good idea do revive the game – with an internet option with which people all over the world could play against each other. 🙂

I’d appreciate if you had any information regaring the Sega Genesis version of Mule (or any other conversion). Maybe you even have some beta versions of them? 🙂

Anyway, thanks for writing and taking the time to read this.

Best regards and greetings to the other M.U.L.E. authors (Danielle, Bill, Alan and Roy)

from Danielle Bunten Berry

This is the mail I received from Danielle Bunten Berry on December 8th, 1997:

Hi. I did an ego search (looking for sites with my name on them) and found your site. I am so pleased and flattered by your attention to MULE. You’re right. There is a MULE for Genesis cartridge but it has some major bugs. However, I’d be glad to loan it to you just to see it run on the PC. We had some good ideas in that version that no one ever saw. I have a new design for MULE as an online product (named “Planet Pioneer”). However, I am having trouble finding support to build it. I have thought about trying to start a letter writing campagn that I could use as leverage with a publisher. The unfortunate situation now is that virtually all the folks in authority in the industry got here after MULE was already out of print. The world is so oriented towards “sizzle” these days that showing someone the original product doesn’t go very far either. Anyway, on a personal note I’m currently finishing treatment for a fairly advanced case of lung cancer. The prognosis is good and my spirits are very high. I view the future one day at a time. However, if there is one thing I want to do before I die it is to re-do MULE for a modern audience. I’m telling you all this to see if you have any idea how to make this happen. I assume you have email from people asking for this as well. What do you think? I’ll take any help.

Thanks … Danielle

Danielle Bunten Berry, December 8th 1997


I answered her shortly after. Now, 22 years later, I wish I had answered differently. Whatever the reason, sadly, I never got a reply before her death.

Hi Danielle!

(my english may be a bit awkward from time to time, but I hope you understand what I want to say…)

Hi. I did an ego search (looking for sites with my name on them) and found your site. I am so pleased and flattered by your attention to MULE.

Thanks. 🙂 Jim Rushing thought the same, he also stumbled upon my page. 🙂

You’re right. There is a MULE for Genesis cartridge but it has some major bugs. However, I’d be glad to loan it to you just to see it run on the PC.

That would be absolutely bombastic!!! I´d really appreciate it if you send me the Genesis version. 🙂 Now there´s only one thing to clear: do you just have a cartridge (which would complicate things), or do you have the binary version which was burnt onto the EPROM as a file? If you have the file, it would be easy to (try to) run it on one of the Genesis emulators… I´d do an article about that on my page (only if you give me your permission, of course).

We had some good ideas in that version that no one ever saw.

I´m looking forward to see those new ideas. 🙂

I have a new design for MULE as an online product (named “Planet Pioneer”). However, I am having trouble finding support to build it. I have thought about trying to start a letter writing campagn that I could use as leverage with a publisher. The unfortunate situation now is that virtually all the folks in authority in the industry got here after MULE was already out of print.

That’s an unfortunate situation, you are right. Though I am only twenty years old, I am one of those (rare?) guys who enjoy playing those “old” games like M.U.L.E., Archon, Little Computer People, Infocom adventures etc. just as much as playing newer productions (e.g. Monkey Island 3…). Those “old” games do have a special flair which only a fragment of the new games reach – of course not in terms of graphics or sound, but in terms of playability.

The world is so oriented towards “sizzle” these days that showing someone the original product doesn’t go very far either.

Show “M.U.L.E.” to an average, 15-year-old game maniac, tell him this games takes about 48K of memory (1/1000000 part of an average harddisk today), and he will spit on it and turn to “his” type of games – the millionth ego-shooter, the billionth “state-of-the-art”-adventure and the trillionth realtime strategy game. It will be a great effort to push M.U.L.E. (2) back into the market, but I am confident that you achieve this goal.

Anyway, on a personal note I’m currently finishing treatment for a fairly advanced case of lung cancer. The prognosis is good and my spirits are very high. I view the future one day at a time.

I wish you all the best for your health in the future – I know several people who fought cancer successfully, and I want you to belong to these people.

However, if there is one thing I want to do before I die it is to re-do MULE for a modern audience. I’m telling you all this to see if you have any idea how to make this happen. I assume you have email from people asking for this as well. What do you think? I’ll take any help.

I got several mails of people who told me their ideas regarding MULE 2. And David Tucker, the maintainer of another great MULE site (even larger than mine) at http://www.ultranet.com/~dtucker/ collected thoughts of other people regarding this topic and put it on his page.

My personal opinion?

The best thing of the original M.U.L.E. was its simplicity and the “waterproof” concept. Of course, the possibility to play it with four persons was its other great advantage. If I were given the possibility to design M.U.L.E. 2, I would of course re-do the graphics and the sound, but would leave the original playing concept as untouched as possible. I´d add some options:

– the possibility to play more than 12 turns (maybe 24).
– the possibility to avoid getting robbed by the pirates, but NOT by wasting plots for troops or rocketlaunchers or something similar. Maybe like in a land auction: the player who pays most won´t be robbed.
– the possibility to play on a larger planet (i.e. more plots). This includes playing more than 12 turns.
– of course, incorporate the internet. Through the NES emulator NESticle, I was able to play the NES version of MULE with someone from Australia – great feeling. 🙂
– in a network version, maybe more than 4 players would be possible

Other ideas I´ve heard of (settling a whole galaxy e.g.) would only be disturbing the game concept – M.U.L.E. has always been a multiplayer game (like Genereal Chaos for the Genesis or Bomber Man for the TurboGrafx), and therefore a “story-mode” is not necessary. Other strategy games like Master of Orion 2 fill this hole.

These are my thoughts…

Anyway, thanks for your time. I´ve only one question left: is it true that there are only 128 different playfields in the original M.U.L.E. (both Atari800 and C64)?

Best regards!

(By the way, I am one of the few people who bought an original copy of MULE after getting the illegal copy – In 1996, I spent $50 for the original, and it was a hard task to find one here in Germany… 🙂 )