The website for Champions Online officially launched a few days ago, and it kinda feels like coming home. The forums are full of excitement and potential, a lot of old CoH players (and by 'old' I mean 'pre-beta forums' of 2001) are there and people really want to see what ChampO has in store. Given that it is meant to launch in Spring 2009 means that the wait until beta starts shouldn't be that long.
Of course, a huge question mark hangs over what ChampO will be exactly, how it will work and whether or not an 'action MMO' will turn people off or not. Personally, I'd love a MMO that I could run around in and had combat like it was a 3D fighter, but we'll see. Also, the promise of full powers customisation is huge - I'm sure there are some powers that just won't be feasible to develop for that certain player minorities will clamour for (e.g. full shapeshifting, character stretching, power mimicry, etc).
So where does this leave City of Heroes / Villains? With 12 months to keep players, that's where. While the ball is in Cryptic's court, if word gets out that ChampO isn't that good or turns off traditional MMO players, then CoH/V will probably be safe enough. Time will tell.
Some other interesting things came out - Jack Emmert talked about his learnings / experience with CoH/V pretty openly at the GDC 2008, which he can do given now he's not as bound that that francise's fortunes. I'd be interested to hear the full talk - the article seems a bit mashed up and confusingly written - but it's interesting to hear a lead developer's frustrations about their own work. Jack also appeared at a GDC panel alongside Matt Miller (aka Positron, lead dev on CoH/V), which would probably have been an interesting experience for both of them. On the other hand, I found a number of Jack's responses funny.
To round out - there's a rumour that Perpetual Entertainment will shut its doors permanently today. For a MMO dev who had a lot of publicity for a while, it's interesting to see where it ended up. It's two announced MMOs - Gods and Heroes and Star Trek Online - were never seen by the public and it's middleware engine has to be in limbo. I wonder if Bioware will pick it up?
UPDATE - Massively.com has another viewpoint on Emmert's CoH/V history talk at GDC 08. It's much better written than the Gama Sutra article, but the Q&A at the end is obviously paraphrased (I say 'obviously' because I've never seen a Q&A where at least one side doesn't ramble, while this section is very punchy) to the extent that they'd be pretty easy to use out of context.