There are a few things you need to know for this story to make sense.
First, among John and Doug’s friends, croquet is not played normally. Among cordial British society, it is a game played on a flat, well-manicured lawn with careful measurements taken to ensure that each game is precisely the same. Furthermore, while some interaction may take place between players, it is hardly cutthroat.
For John and Doug, as per the invention of their friend Tim, croquet is a bloodsport. Terrain is expected to be uneven. Players are expected to launch others into the rough by placing your ball next to a foe’s, putting your foot on yours, and hitting your own ball as hard as you can. Physics then does the rest, transferring the energy through your ball and sending the foe’s ball far, far away from where it was. And the game isn’t over until everyone – save for the victor – has lost. After completing what would have been the game in normal-people croquet, the ball becomes “poison” and hunts down the other players to kill them – unless they’re poison too and are hunting you. So, bloodsport. Oh, and trash talk is required.
On that balmy, June day in 2001, Doug and John happened to be playing a particularly cruelly-set-up game of croquet, where the only way to make any progress was to land a ball on top of a hill in order to put it through the center wicket. Twice.
So, there was time to talk while others carefully lined up their shots, and Doug and John, shockingly, turned to talking about comic books. John said his favorite character was Wolverine (and he still is, because John is nothing if not consistent); Doug told John his favorite character was Havok (because even back then, he was a hipster and couldn’t just like things that regular people like). So, there was only one logical thing to call their team: Team Meltdown.
For those of you who don’t go as deeply geeky as they do, Meltdown was a four issue miniseries where Wolvie and Havok wander through the desert fighting bad guys and, pretty often, each other for the various reasons that good guys fight each other in comics. They ultimately get their acts together and take down Meltdown, a Russian Cold-War-era bad guy who feeds off of Havok’s energy. So, like Alex and James joining forces to take down the mad Russian, John and Doug joined forces to take down their unlucky croquet foes.
And, sure enough, Team Meltdown took the day. Hard. They sent their enemies flying, sometimes into poison ivy (they actually feel bad about that one). They made them weep (not really, but in their heads that totally happened). They took the day. And for many games, Team Meltdown was an unstoppable force of raw croquet power.
Flashforward to eleven years later, when Doug had his glorious dream. There was only one person to ask to make the game with him. And there was only one name that they could have chosen out of all of the names in the world. Plus, http://www.meltdowngames.com was still available – because, hey, fate.