Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 11, NO. 9 / SEPTEMBER 1985 / PAGE 94

Ice cream van; try this entertaining and challenging "business" simulation on your Model 100 or NEC 8201. Steven E. Williams.

Are you getting the most from your notebook comuter? While TRS-80 Model 100/200, NEC 8201A, and Olivetti M10 owners cherish portable number crunching and word processing, some have yet to explore another application: entertainment. Between "serious" uses, the Modest 100 and compatibles can generate loads of fun. Ice Cream Van, for example, is an informal business simulation written in Model 100 Basic. (With minor modification, it will run on any computer with Microsoft Basic.) The 4991-byte program resides comfortably in lap computers with at least 8K RAM.

In Ice Cream Van you work a part-time refreshment business. Selling nine types of ice cream products from your '79 Ford, you have 21 Saturdays (15 minutes real time) to repay a $2000 debt on the vehicle. You start with the van, a pair of refrigerated boxes, 18 gallons of gasoline, and $100 to $150 in cash.

After you enter last name, a seven-option menu appears. Option one yields the assets report, an evaluation of your cash on hand, savings at Sentry Bank, automobile efficiency, and the amount of gas in your tank. The report also shows the wholesale and retail values of ice cream products in your inventory.

The source of your refreshments is Johnson's Dealership. For later sale you can purchase shortcake, fudge bars, vanilla bars, almond bars, big wheels, and creamsicles. To win the game you must eventually handle the more expensive products: fudge sundaes, banana splits, and birthday cakes. Not all products will be available every week. If you are in the Purchase Product menu and don't want to buy anything, entering 0 will return you to the main menu. The two refrigerated boxes fitted for your vehicle hold up to 200 units of one type of product each. At the end of any turn you may purchase an additional receptacle; the price varies from $60 to $400.

In addition to handling merchandise, you must manage vehicle fuel and repairs. The navigation command lets you target street blocks for vending, at a maximum of two blocks per gallon of gasoline. If the assets report shows auto efficiency below 100%, your van has been the victim of one of five mechanical failures. The auto report command lets you pay for repairs--$20 to $204-at any time after failure occurs. Efficiency is an important factor in profit calculations.

For game purposes, Sentry Bank pays 6% weekly interest on your account balance. Money deposited in the bank, however, isn't available for spending on additional boxes or advertising at the end of turn.

After you have prepared for the day--purchased ice cream, determined the length of your route, visited the bank, and noted any problems with your van--you are ready to work your route. For each refrigerated box, a percentage sale is calculated. Driving a short route and not placing any advertising will result in sales of about 5% of your inventory. You can place an advertisement in the local paper any week up to the fifteenth week. The effect of advertising is cumulative as you gain recognition in the community; each ad will increase your sales by about 5% per week.

At the end of 21 weeks, you receive a final assets statement and, if you have met or exceeded the $2000 goal, a performance ranking from 1 to 10. Remember that the sum of your cash and savings, not the value of your ice cream inventory, determines whether you reach the goal. In any case, if a box of shortcake remains, you could throw one heck of a party.

As in real life, success in Ice Cream Van is difficult to achieve. After a dozen unsuccessful summers, you may be convinced it is not possible to win the game. But be persistent. Make notes of things that seem to work and those that don't. Remember that the strategy you use at first will probably have to be modified as you progress through the summer. It is possible to pay off your van and have a small surplus to boot. Good selling!