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WIPs of days gone by - M.U.L.E 2600



One of my back-burner projects, was a 2600 version of M.U.L.E. It was just an inkling of an idea, and I even toyed with the idea of a different sort of game in the same universe.


I've posted about it before, but reworking the M.U.L.E theme for TIA was a hoot. I'm particularly proud of the section in the middle, where the original tune does a series of upward key changes. I managed to replicate the same same rising feeling without the problematic key changes, by laying down a series of ascending notes underneath the non-key-changed melody.




I'm a big fan of TIA music that's in-tune, without needing to do the Pitfall II trick. TIA sounds great if you throw the right notes at her. The mule music was written before I came up with the idea of Perceptual Tuning, but I managed to keep it in tune by shifting the key until I found one that worked. Nowadays I'd just start off in A3. And while I'm at it I'd likely use a more advanced note priority systems, so I could cram more TIA goodness into the tune, like I did with the T:ME Salvo theme. That said, the TIA M.U.L.E theme was an instrumental experience that led to the Salvo theme, so there's no regrets.


I wanted to add some visual interest to the music player, so I took the standard colorbars, and tweaked them a bit. I'm actually taking one upward set of colorbars, and one downward set of colorbars, and I'm ORing them together.




The result is interesting, I think. A bit hypnotic, with a backdrop of yellow patterns, that give way to splashes of color that soon disappear back to yellow. On the other hand, the patterns cycle after 256 frames, so I might have done better to move the two source colorbars a different rates, so they have a a longer period. 


Colorbars on the 7800 are pretty much the same as on the 2600 - you change the color register and hit WSYNC. You can see that my interest in tweaking the traditional colorbars continued into my 7800 work, when you look at the Salvo titlescreen logo. Here chroma and luma are manipulated separately, with the colorbars getting shaded as a result.




I think there's some interesting ground to be covered in coming up with alternate colorbar styles. Nobody is excited to see plain old colorbars anymore, so why not amp them up a bit?


Back to M.U.L.E, there's the M.U.L.E experimental "planet kernel" I came up with. I think I managed a reasonable approximation of the M.U.L.E planet elements here...






...the plot "ownership" boxes has to be substituted with ownership bars, and the number of plots is reduced from the computer versions, but I think it's still essentially M.U.L.E.


I hope my M.U.L.E music and planet kernel gives you a taste of what could been, in an alternate timeline where EA decided to support the 2600. On the down side, we'd have a dozen Madden 2600 games to contend with. :P

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