This isn't Champions first foray into computer gaming, however. "The one attempt to create a Champions computer game, by Hero Software back in the mid-Nineties, was ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful, resulting in what I'm told is considered one of the great all-time pieces of vaporware."
Long has found the process of adapting a paper RPG into MMOG play to be fascinating. "[A]side from D&D Online, which seems to me to be horribly done and the classic definition of a missed opportunity, this is the first time that a paper RPG has been so directly adapted for an MMO. Of course it's more of an IP adaptation than a rules thing, but I hope it heralds a new era in which other media look to paper RPGs for ideas and material. The paper RPG industry is amazingly creative and fruitful, and compared to any other form of media I know about, it can generate huge amounts of quality material very cheaply."
Cryptic's Champions Online won't use the famously complicated and flexible HERO System, however. "They bought the Champions IP from us lock, stock and energy pistols," Long says, "then licensed back to us the right to create paper RPG books for the game, subject to their approval. The guys at Cryptic are big Champions fans and eager to see both what ideas we have for Champions going forward, and how we embody their ideas in paper RPG form."
With Champions continuing in the tabletop arena and Champions Online debuting in the MMORPG sector, how will both games manage to coexist?
"Roughly speaking, the plan is to launch the Sixth Edition and a new, [Sixth Edition]-compatible Champions at Gen Con 2009. After that, we'll publish some books describing the Champions Universe as Cryptic sees it. Right now we've got two Dr. Destroyers - the one you see in our books, and the one they've drawn and described for the MMO. After [Sixth Edition], there will only be one: theirs. It's their IP, so what they want is how it will be."
This shift in creative origin is sure to rankle fans who have been following the HERO System-driven Champions for decades. What does Long say to fans who feel the new game will overshadow the old one? What does he say to fans who think the MMORPG will be a shadow of the HERO System game?