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Monday, February 20, 2006

M.U.L.E. in High Fidelity

So, I finally got Animal Crossing: Wild World. It's occupied an hour or so of my day since I've gotten it. I actually like a game which emphasis shorter, daily, visits than long marathon matches. I haven't gone NiWiFi just yet, but I while talking about the game to The Brother, I made the seemingly odd comparision to the Dani Bunten classic, M.U.L.E., which I can't fully explain other than the feeling of wandering from point to point trying to enhance your land.

Still, the comparison sparked The Brother to shortly thereafter send me a screenshot of his success at getting M.U.L.E. to run on his OS X laptop. So I had to try. I got Frodo, found the disk image and everything seemed good to go. Except I couldn't get a "joystick button" or "action button" to get recognized ... which is apparently because Frodo emulates the joystick via the numeric keypad.

Problem is ... I've got this fancy keyboard. No numeric keypad.

So I download a demo of a virtual keyboard, use it's keypad to enter the keys into GamePad companion so that they are probably mapped on my USB adapted PS2 controller. Yup, I'm playing a Commodore 64 game that once fit on a 5.25 floppy via a Unix based operating system off of a PlayStation 2 controller. I'm sure I could get more complicated, but I'd have to try really hard.

Still, it's the best rendition of the game I could possibly have hoped to get. And the game, for the curious, still rocks. It's impressive how much intelligence the developers crammed into the game. There are a lot of dirty tricks to play in M.U.L.E., like buying up all the reserves of food or tricking someone inflating a price to buy the product instead ... and the computer is familiar with many of them. As well it's extremely capable in terms of dealing with plots and knowing when to sell and buy. After a few games, I could still only get second place in tournament mode ... and the was with a flapper. Course, that was because light green mechtron worked around my "starve their energy needs" plan while brown mechtron did the "starve their food needs" plan.

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Patrick Dugan said...

I've wanted to play M.U.L.E. for a while now, but the one version I managed to find wouldn't run on my computer, and evidently you need to go through a lot of trouble to make that happen (my laptop also has no numeric keypad). Its a shame, because as a game designer this should be my favorite game, right? (Its currently a toss-up between FFVIJ and Planscape: Torment)

The first time I even heard of M.U.L.E. was at Chris Crawford's house last June. Dave Walker, Storytron's technical guy, mentioned the game and having lunch with Dan, "who at the time was Danielle". That was a phrase I did not expect to hear. It was intersting to me to hear of someone from a sciences background who tried to traverse the gulf and reach art, just as she tried to traverse the gulf between the sexes. Its too bad she died of cancer, really fucking tragic.

Josh said...

I think virtually any living being would be a better living being for having played M.U.L.E. Easily in the top ten of best games ever, by any standard.

I can't remember when I first read of Bunten's sex change, but it cleared up a long standing confusion of mine as to just who Dan Bunten was...

Josh said...

You might also try to get Atari Mule Online running:

Being on a Mac, I think I'm shut out.