TMC - The Mowers Clan - Gaming Organization
Untitled Document

The History of TMC

Introduction

TMC is an oganization rooted primarily in gaming and tech. It is fitting then that such an organization would be born out of a place like Sillicon Valley. A very unique place, the Sillicon Valley has seen the creation of many of the innovations we consider commonplace today. Tech giants have risen and fallen within this valley, all of which have left their own indelible fingerprints on the course of technological evolution.

The gaming industry as we know it today also began here in the Silicon Valley. It was the 1970's and a man named Nolan Bushnell would form a company called Atari that would dominate the early gaming industry.

Over the years, many other gaming companies would spring up around the Sillicon Valley, some would stand the test of time, and others will not.

It was in this fertile soil of tech, gamning and innovation that a thriving PC gaming community would arise. Out of that community would come a large subset known for what would be called LAN parties. These were events in which PC gamers would pack up their prized gaming rigs and meet up in a central location and do digital battle over a Local Area Network (aka LAN). This provided a great opportunity to meet local like minded individuals, swap files, hang out and of course play games. These events would be held just about anywhere including garages, warehouses, office spaces, community centers or anywhere else that had enough space and electricity.

In 1999 TMC was formed among a group of three friends. Not long after forming, TMC became involved in the thriving local Silicon Valley LAN Party scene and began to grow very quickly. Soon TMC would include members from all over the Bay Area, Sacramento and Santa Cruz. It wasn't long until TMC began volunteering to staff larger local LAN events, and would eventualy begin hosting their own TMC-LAN events.

This is the story of TMC and all of the crazy characters that have helped shaped it over the years.

 

Chapter 1

Warhawk - Founder of TMC

The history of TMC begins with it's founder, known by his gamer handle "Warhawk". Warhawk grew up in San Jose, at the heart of the Silicon Valley. His father worked at companies like Atari, Memorex, Sun Microsystems, and Nvidia, as well as some companies founded by former Xerox Parc employees like Convergent Technologies, and Metaphor. Growing up being surrounded by technology, it was easy to take it for granted and assume that everywhere was similarly technologicaly advanced.

Even in Warhawk's earliest memories his family always had some type of computer in the house; it was a way of life. The first computer owned by the family was an Atari 800 and featured an external floopy disk drive, an external tape drive and a modem. Playing cartridge games on this system were Warhawk's earliest introduction to video games. Many of these games were brought home on copied floppy discs from his father's work at Atari.

Eventually the family would get an IBM x86 clone, but good games were hard to come by and generally most were cheap shareware titles. Some time around 1987-1988 Warhawk played the game Space Quest II at a frieds house. This was an important moment, as it showed off a whole new depth of gameplay and story that Warhawk had previous not seen. This intyroduced a whole new world of new and exciting gaming possibillities with the PC.

Warhawk's Grandfather lived in nerby Marin county and worked for the Government in communications. He had access to government computer networks that would eventually form part of what would become the "Internet". Both Warhawk's father and grandfather were early adopters of dial up bulletin board services like Prodigy and America Online. Emailing was a daily activity and as early as 1990 Warhawk was active in online gaming bullin boards and gaming clubs.

In 1994, the internet became publicly available via services like AOL and Prodigy. At that point it was all very early and rudementary. Compared to the typical bullitin board environment, it was not so much a huge leap forward as it was just the next logical step of what was already going on.

Warhawk would regularly attend computer shows with his father and gfrandfather. These were huge fleaa market type situations that filled up the entire Cow Palace in SF. A cavernous space with concrete floors, harsh florescent lighting and rows upon rows of vendors standing in front of simple folding tables and selling the latest technology. It was the first place I saw demos of things like the Sound Blaster, and graphically intensive video games like Dune 2 and X-Wing.

It was then that Warhawk decided he must own his own PC, and with the help of used parts from his father and grandfather was able to peice together a very basic IBM 386 clone capable of playing games.

Through his father and grandfather, Warhawk received a first hand education on assempling PC's and throubleshooting hardware and software issues. This would prove to be a valuable skill throughout his life.

Every gamer must have a "handle" and choosing an appropriate one is always a difficult task. Warhawk offically chose his handle on October 3rd, 1995, while playing a Battletech simulator in London's Picadilly Circus; and he has stuck with it ever since.

Chapter 2

The Formation of TMC

As is the case with many clubs and organizations, TMC initially started as a close group of friends. Two of Warhawk's close friends growing up went by the names Manticore and Wipeout.

Wipeout earned his name because of his tendancy to fall over, primarily on rollerblades (because all the cool kids rollerbladed in the 90s).

Manticore was a friend of Warhawk since preschool and the two were more like brothers than anything else.

All three of them were fans of the game StarCraft, which was only of the few games of the time that could be semi-reliably played online, even with a dialup connection.

On the day of June 22nd, 1999 the three friends were chatting in a chat room on the Battle.net service when the following ridiculous conversation took place:

Wipeout: "In the second Zerg level, how do I take the egg to the beacon?"

Warhawk: "Use the drone, they can carry stuff"

Wipeout: "Oh ok I didn't know they could do that. How do I get to the beacon?"

Manticore: "You just gotta mow a path"

Wipeout: "mow a path?"

Warhawk: "Yes, mow a path"

Wipeout: "How do I do that?"

Warhawk: "With the Zerg Mower of course. Don't be silly"

Wipeout: "huh?"

Warhawk: "Mow mow mow your drone..."

The conversation proceeded to deteriorate from there...

Eventually Wipeout realized that the only way to victory is to mow a bloody path through the hordes of enemies that face you.

The very next day, the three friends decided to form a clan. Based on the shennanigans of the previous night, the name The Mowers was chosen as the clan name and has endured ever since.

On June 25th, the first edition of the TMC website was published using the very finest of geocities-esque web design techniques.

Chapter 3

The Beginning of House LAN Parties

Around the time TMC was formed, multiplayer games that could connect together over a Local Area Network (aka "LAN") were on the rise. Popular games that could be played over a network included the previously mentioned StarCraft, but the faveorite at the time was a new shooter called Half-Life. This gave rise to people hosting what were called "LAN Parties" at their homes for the sole purpose of playing multiplayer games with friends.

LAN parties would soon play a huge role in shaping what TMC would become.

Technically the first LAN Party that Warhawk had attended, was before that term LAN party came into common usage. It was sometime in 1996 when a friend with 4 computers in his house hosted an all night Command & Conquer Red Alert play sesion at his house. It was an incredibly fun time, but the high cost of personal computers and the fact that at the time not many people owned a gaming PC meant that a LAN party was not something that could be done easily. That was when Warhawk set about collecting PC parts with the goal of eventually having 4 computers of his own, so that he could plan LAN games with his friends all the time. By the time TMC had formed in 1999, Warhawk's goal of owning 4 gaming PC's had been acheived. It was then that Warhawk hosted the very first TMC LAN event, which he would name "Digital Destruction."

The first event took place at Warhawk's home on September 4th, 1999. Owning 4 gaming PC's meant that friends that did not own their own PC could come and participate in the event. In addition to Warhawk's 4 PC's he was able to convince a couple other friends to bring over their family PC. We ended up with a total of 6 PC's and our limited knowledge of networking, along with a combination of Windown 95/98 operating systems and a rudimentary network meant that we spent a lot of time fixing and troubleshooting networking issues. Even with all of the issues, the experience of playing multiplayer Half-Life all night made all the effort worthwhile.

The second Digital Destruiction LAN took place a few months later on December 28th, 1999. By this time mods had come out for Half-Life deathmatch. These mods could chage the gameplay so that it was almost like playing a completely new game. The best of these new mods was one called Counter-Strike. Little did we know that this mod would turn into a worldwide phenomon, with updated versions continiung to be popular 20 years later.

 

TMC - The Mowers Clan - Gaming Organization