Johnny Monsarrat Founds a Company

Johnny Monsarrat photo
Nice to meet you!

Hi, I'm Johnny Monsarrat, and I wasn't alone. More than 1,000 people built Turbine Inc. to its $160 million buyout by Warner Brothers. It's been our labor of love to bring you Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and other games. But this story is not about the whole journey, the corporate stuff after Turbine grew out of its diapers. It's about Turbine's early years and the first 30 employees. It's about giant geeks with an absurb dream, like Doc Brown from Back to the Future trying to invent a time machine. They say only fools start companies, because only fools don't know it's impossible.

It should have been impossible. Think back twenty years to the age before the Web. Nobody had a cell phone. This was 8 years before Friendster, the stupid early version of Facebook.

A screenshot from Asheron's Call, our first game.

In 1994, there was no Web. You needed a dialup modem to get online, and America Online was brand new, cutting edge, but all you could do with it was read some tiny files and send email. You only got decent Internet if you worked for a college, but even then it was unusable unless you were a programmer. The first videogame with real 3D graphics, Doom, had launched the previous year.

So a multiplayer game might have 2 players, and you'd both have to be in the same room. And now we wanted to create the world's largest game, for 500,000 people, with 3D computer graphics, and do it all over the Internet so that anyone, anywhere in the world could join in. Impossible.

Except that we did it. In 3 years, we had a Microsoft deal to fund and distribute our first game. This is that story.

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