Three Rings Design, Inc. was founded in March 2001 by Daniel James and Michael Bayne. After discussions between the two, one of the concepts that Daniel had put forward, an MMOG driven by action puzzles, was chosen as Three Rings' first project, and development started in July of 2001. Three Rings was acquired by SEGA in November 2011.
The name Three Rings is derived from Tolkien mythology: in those stories, the elves created three magic rings, named Vilya, Narya and Nenya. These names appear from time to time in the game, notably as the names of the flags the Ringers belong to and the archipelago names on the Ice Ocean. Vilya, Narya and Nenya are also the names given to Three Rings' open-source Java libraries, containing "facilities for making networked multiplayer games." These libraries are used with other Three Rings and open-source technologies to power Three Rings' Game Gardens site.
The current staff of Three Rings Design include the Ocean Masters, who are responsible for customer service, moderation and policing within Puzzle Pirates and perform similar functions to Game Masters in other games, and Ringers, who are responsible for the development and maintenance of both Puzzle Pirates and Bang! Howdy.
Prior to starting Three Rings, in 1995 Daniel James made an attempt at bidding for the rights to make an MMORPG based on the Lord of the Rings. This company would have been called Three Rings Internet Productions but never got underway because of legal wrangling.
The steampunk submarine Three Rings Design office is located at 612 Howard Street, San Francisco, California and they also have tentacles in Philadelphia, PA, and Madison, WI.