M.U.L.E. ( for Multiple Use Labor Element, an acronym for mule, English for Mule ) is a multiplayer computer game designed by Ozark softscape ( Dani Bunten and others) and has been programmed. It was first published by Electronic Arts in May 1983 for the Atari 800 home computer. A port to the C64 was released in October 1983. Later implementations for IBM PCjr, Nintendo Entertainment System was followed (1990, MicroProse ) and released only in Japan for the MSX2 versions of systems (1988, Bullet Proof Software ) and PC -88.

M.U.L.E. is extremely important for the history of computer games. It was not only one of the first strategy games for multiple players, it also influenced a whole generation of games. Many of today 's best design of computer games such as Will Wright or Sid Meier designated MULE as a role model and source of inspiration - often even as " most important game of all time ".


The game is a structural and economic simulation in real time.

Four settlers are placed on the new planet " Irata " (Atari spelled backwards ) and there have one year ( 12 rounds ) time to build their colony. After the spaceship returns, and the richest settlers is the winner - depending on how strong the colony was generally there are five levels of possible success.

Up to four players, the role of these settlers can take over ( the Atari 800, four joysticks are connected with the other systems to control up to two players their actions with the keyboard in the normal game round they then take over any joystick, since this game rounds in a row be played). The vacant positions are maintained by the computer.

The map is generated for each game by adding levels and mountains are randomly distributed, but there is always a river valley in the middle. Similarly, the settlement with the shops and the pub always in the middle of the river valley.

A M.U.L.E. is a mule -like working robot. These are equipped for a task, installed on a parcel where they produce depending on equipment food ( food ), energy ( energy), "blacksmith ore " ( smithore ) or " gems " ( Crystite ).

Each player takes each round a certain amount of food and energy. The food supply determines the time which is a player to land development. The energy required depends on the number of installed MULEs ( for energy production even though you do not need energy). Smith - ore is used for the production of new MULEs. Gemstones are thought as an investment or for speculation, but these are also coveted by pirates.

In each round, the following actions take place:

  • Distribution of land - a parcel of land there is free
  • Country Auction - now and then is a plot auctioned
  • Land development - the players act individually in turn ( in the preliminary round ranking ) on the map; advance each player can receive personal good and bad news Buy, finishing and installation of MULEs on the parcels
  • Optional: View Land Sale
  • Optional: expertise of a plot on gemstone deposits
  • Optional: Wumpusjagd
  • Pub ( Pub ) - end of the turn

In the distribution of land and the auctions all players are simultaneously involved and highlight their desire plot or turn on their prices. However, with simultaneous timing of two players is the lowest economic unexampled preferred.

At auctions, and private trading between two players is possible in addition to trading with the store.

The grounds are differently suitable for production: most blacksmith ore example, there are in the mountains, food in the river valley on the other hand, energy on flat land and precious stones are there per game three plots with high incidence; the vertically and horizontally adjacent to these plots plots have average occurrence and turn vertically or horizontally adjacent parcels low incidence. Basically contiguous parcels with a production of varieties are always more successful than individual plots.

Prices vary according to this supply and demand.

There are also many small nasties possible to establish a monopoly on a kind of goods, for example, and then buying up all the stocks in the shop to drive up prices; or hoarding of blacksmith ore to cut down MULEs.

Cult status

The cult has M.U.L.E. achieved, that it is very balanced and thus always guaranteed new gameplay. The multi-player capability and the economic simulation were formative for the genre of computer games.

The preliminary round first (1st and 2nd place) must be prepared for bad news, during the preliminary round last may hope (3rd and 4th place) for good news.


  • The name M.U.L.E. comes from the novel " Time Enough for Love" by Robert A. Heinlein.
  • Electronic Arts did the game actually called Moguls from Mars. But when the management saw the title screen, it stayed with MULE
  • Due to the expiration of the 800 series, Atari sold only about 30,000 copies of the game. M.U.L.E. but one of the three most copied games in history.
  • One seldom hears the theme music of MULE as background music for the game Spore by EA.
  • Furthermore, there is the mineral extraction unit MULE in the computer game Starcraft 2 by Blizzard. This allows the player request using the so-called satellite headquarters.


M.U.L.E. was repeatedly cloned, including with Traders (1992, PC and Amiga) and Subtrade (1993, PC and Amiga).