Marvel Universe Online to Champions Online is the professional relationship it fostered with the guys who managed the Champions pen and paper IP. While the crossover from paper RPG to MMO is far from straight-forward, there is a considerable brain trust from which Cryptic can draw in the creation of their game. The Escapist recently posted a terrific article which went into some depth with one such mastermind -- 16-year veteran of the franchise, Steve Long.
While Long maintains some unadulterated affection for the HERO character creation system of the pen and paper game, he seems to be of the belief that the current arrangement (with Cryptic buying the Champions IP outright and licensing it back to Hero) is going to be beneficial for both parties. While MMOs seem to be driving the overall simplification of pen and paper RPGs, Long thinks that MMOs have a lot to learn as well, especially in the areas of customization and interactivity with environments.