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M.U.L.E. Online

Classic M.U.L.E. for modern computers · By puzzud

Some suggestions after first offline playthrough

A topic by drummer_nrg created 31 days ago Views: 55 Replies: 3
Viewing posts 1 to 3
(+1)

Hello, I'm so happy to have found this after having successfully emulated MULE on Linux, but always having controller issues over the years. Everything just worked perfectly on first purchase and run today, thank you!

Some ideas to help speed an offline playthrough:

  • Make each auction timeout defeatable: it speeds up if no player is moving, however I would appreciate if the auction could end quicker.
    • Perhaps allowing each player to traverse further on the Y axis past their initial place to indicate accelerating or cancelling the timer. If no players are moving and all human players vote to accelerate/cancel: activate. I imagine this could a simple way to indicate their intended participation in the auction.
    • This turned out to be the longest drag because it is dead play time.
    • Could multiplayer auction defeatable timeouts be abused?
  • Because the original game developers allowed acceleration of updates, please make all controller buttons:
    • accelerate the non-human player updates: not just the primary action button (X on a Playstation controller)
    • skip animation to progressively display the round summary (the players march horizontally, then upward).

Thanks so much, really happy with the state of M.U.L.E. in 2024, I can share this with my family!

Developer(+1)

Greetings! Thanks for the feedback.


Auction Speed Up
Speed up or reduced time during the game when players are "doing nothing", namely during auction while waiting for a timer to expire, is an enhancement that gets brought up to me occasionally. In fact, that category of write in responses figured prominently in the survey I recently conducted.

Thinking on it, I am a little apprehensive about doing it or how it should be done. To paraphrase Dani Bunten:  what happens around the game is as important as what happens in the game. I don't think it matters so much in a solo game, but I worry that if there is more of an impulse or pressure to skip those windows of time where players could propose & initiate deals, etc., some of the heart and soul of MULE might be diminished.

For the MULE sequel, the publisher requested player turns be simultaneous. That'd speed up the game for sure, but at what cost? It's important to observe and think about what you're going to do on your turn. Dani Bunten begrudgingly agreed but that became a slippery slope for the infamous "bombs request" that led to Dani walking away.

As you have noticed, I am a bit guarded with stuff like this and collusion. However, I've softened up a bit, especially after the survey. My current sentiment is to make these sort of things as democratic as possible, on par with your idea about "all players vote".

The scheme I've come up with is very similar to the one you present. However, you bring up an interesting point about the player pressing into their origin / bounds--that could be useful for indicating something! If all players (computer players alike) are not moving and all human players are pressing their primary buttons, the timer speed increases to some rate faster than the speed for when no players are moving in the trade range (between and at where the trade bars varies).

Repurposing the primary button during auction means I would definitely have to come up with an alternate scheme for initiating collusion.

Again, because of the survey and vocal fans like you, this enhancement is higher priority than most (especially collusion).


Skip Computer Player Turn Action Buttons
What is the reason you'd like every button to skip computer player turn actions? Some of the buttons are reserved for other actions, such as bringing up the main menu and what I call the "game dashboard" (where you can currently go to change a player's controller), "start" & "select" respectively. It's possible (and very likely) I will introduce other actions to other buttons as well. For instance, in the unreleased MULE sequel, with the Sega Genesis controllers had 3 buttons, it was possible to view the entire landscape from within the town if you needed to look at your plots (maybe you forgot what kind of mule you needed--I know I do this all the time!). So, in the end, it might be a little weird to have an odd configuration of a subset of buttons to vote for a speed up. I also have to be cognizant of the people playing with keyboard or mouse (have you tried mouse control yet?).


Status Summary Animation Speed Up
You are the first to request this feature. But after the survey, I expanded the general notion of speeding up the game and thought about the places where speed up might be useful. Other areas being during all round event animations and plot production. Again, there is a sort of drama & suspense to watching the plot ticks pop up, where we're almost praying for a good yield. But you might make a good argument that there is definitely something important happening there and it's not as dull as watching the sands of an hourglass empty.

That being said, I thought about this idea as well. And being a player but also a developer, I've watched this animation a lot! This one is a little complicated with legacy behavior. I would want it to be unanimous like the proposed auction speed up. But because the primary button has the function during this screen to hide a player's score and progress to the next phase, it would introduce the scenario where people accidentally do the latter. I suppose if there *was* a dedicated "vote to speed up" button, it wouldn't be an issue, but that idea has its own drawbacks.

I bet if we put on EEGs, we'd probably see a lot of activity during at least the first half of the status summary animation. We are already performing postmortems and scheming what we need to do next.

Speeding up this animation has a side effect that not observed during the auction timer speed up:  the planeteer moving animation will look a little funny. Although, something I could achieve not possible with speed ups using emulators is that I could keep the music at the correct speed.

So, because of these complications, this particular enhancement scores quite a bit lower in the priority queue.

---
I apologize if I've created a big wall of text. I love to talk MULE & MULE enhancements. So, please keep the ideas coming!

(1 edit) (+1)

Thanks for the rapid and thoughtful response, I agree with all of your sentiments.

I am new to this community, I will check out Discord. I wasn’t aware of the survey: were the results published anywhere? Was the survey conducted in Discord? It may bear out a topic here or a web page or a community wiki.

As a product manager, I know that not every customer request is valid, but often reveals a more general need, separate deeper problem, or latent expectation. I think classic M.U.L.E. is a real pinnacle of game design and UI: simpler is better on so many levels! Of course, everything was necessarily resource constrained in the 8-bit days. But messing with the game design could be death of brilliance by a thousand cuts or tweaks, so I appreciate your caution. Perhaps any “enhancements” could be defeatable with a Classic mode.

Some more clarification:

Yes, in multi-player, the discussions that happen during the auctions is critical (and fondly remembered) and not reflected in game play. Perhaps it is my nostalgic recollection that the accelerated timer was faster. So my thoughts are really around modern pacing expectations and in retrospect, perhaps my request is limited to single player only.

One additional thought to address this: perhaps the auction pacing accelerator doesn’t need to be a game play and UI element, but could be a game play setting in Options, perhaps an offline auction timeout acceleration factor?

For all of the skips during the non-human player actions/updates, I struggled on my first play though to find and then later remember which single button on the controller (PS5 Dualsense, turns out it was X) could trigger the other player update skips. Because the Atari joystick back from those days had a single button that triggered these skips, I think a small argument could be made that any of the Playstation face buttons (X, triangle, square, circle) could increase the accessibility of skips in these sections.

For the round summary animation skips (IIRC from the original): this would cancel the animation and just display the final result standings.

Thanks for your consideration.

Is there a priority roadmap list? :)

Developer

A survey link was emailed to then current customers and was advertised on social networks including the World of MULE discord server. I plan on publishing the results but the Roy Glover interview was higher priority. When I do, I'll advertise similarly; instead of an email, I'll make a community post here.

Thanks for the clarification on the speed up ideas. I'll likely supply them without option, relying on the unanimous voting nature we discussed before.

I rather like the simplicity of designing around a single (primary) button, where all other buttons are not essential to the game. And I guess a counter argument would be that a dedicated skip button is not essential. But there is already such a precedent in MULE with using the button "to go on". Did you know you can reconfigure your gamepad settings in the main menu -> options -> input -> gamepad -> customize -> ...

The status summary animation skip is doable. As a product manager, you know how programmers will wince and squirm but eventually implement a feature request. MULE does not distinguish between button just pressed versus button down; it only looks at the latter. There is a use case where players will hold their buttons down during the animation to ensure their scores are hidden from other players when the animation ends. The skip will require that a player raises their button and presses it again. I can think of a couple ways to do this.

I currently don't have a public roadmap list. In my developer logs, I give a general "what's on the horizon".