Executive Summary 😉
It is the year 2020 as you read these lines. I will try to convey why a 37-year-old computer game designed for 8-bit Atari and Commodore machines from the early 1980’ies deserves to be played even today.
Today’s computers have far superior graphics and sound capabilities – but M.U.L.E. doesn’t depend on these sizzles. Today’s strategy games have reached a complexity which requires you to read thick manuals before really enjoying a game. M.U.L.E. is much simpler, yet as least as compelling and interesting.
The story is as simple (four settlers reach the planet Irata and have to colonize it) as the gameplay seems to be at first sight. But the more you play M.U.L.E., the more you will get addicted to it, especially if you have friends with whom you can play.
But why would you care playing it more often than a few times? Why would you care playing it 36 years after it’s release?
Why? Because the combination of M.U.L.E.’s planetary economic simulation of cut-throat capitalism, together with a good number of random events which disturb every of your previous well-made plans for planetary domination, is near perfectly balanced. Or even perfectly balanced.
Due to the randomness, every game is different, every game is a new challenge, yet the game never feels unfair or tedious. On the contrary, after a while one develops a fondness for it’s comic characters. Favourites are picked. Every combination of human players huddled around a computer screen is different. If new M.U.L.E. players meet for the first time, fights may break loose (“It is me who has always been the Green Packer, why should you now be it?”).
That’s the magic of M.U.L.E.
Why is M.U.L.E. visionary for it’s time
The most famous quote from Danielle Bunten Berry, the lead M.U.L.E. designer, is the following, taken from her business website. She is posting a fictitious interview where she is answering the question “Why I design multi-player, on-line games”
“No one on their death bed ever said ‘I wish I had spent more time alone with my computer!’ (Duh… it’s people!)”– Danielle Bunten Berry
Well, M.U.L.E. is not an on-line game (at least not in it’s time).
But it is the most perfect incarnation of an off-line multi-player game.
Even though M.U.L.E. can be played against the computer, it was not designed for this. It was designed to be played by four humans huddled around a computer screen. Only then do the game dynamics unfold their magic in the way Dani meant them to be: Drive and deepen human-human interactions, not human-computer interactions.
Why is this so special? Because in 1983, the overwhelmingly large majority of games were single-player, at maximum two-player, adventure or action games. The game concept of M.U.L.E. combined with the four-player support was absolutely unique in 1983.
Why is M.U.L.E. important for me personally
How will this website help YOU to experience the M.U.L.E. legacy
This website will help you to make your first steps with the game if you’re a newbie, and it also offers a wealth of information and goodies for everyone else. The best place to start is to learn about Classic M.U.L.E. for Atari and Commodore. Or return to the main page to see all of the site content.