Lest I am accused of simply being a PR machine for old school publishers, I wanted to say a couple of things about the announcement of a revised edition of Labyrinth Lord. Firstly, and most importantly, I think it's terrific that a retro-clone will be available in distribution again. LL had been available in stores in the past, but fell victim to the financial collapse of its distributor. A revised edition is a good time to jump back into the fray, I think, and I'm very happy to see that Dan Proctor has done just that.
I'm also happy that it'll be the inexpensive paperback version that'll make its way to store shelves rather than the hardback version. I say that because, much as I love hardcover books -- I'll almost certainly be snagging a hardcover version of the revised edition when it's convenient -- I think the old school renaissance best shows off its virtues in the form of inexpensive paperbacks. The hobby is already filled with enough expensive hardcovers as it is. More to the point, the types of old school games that are currently the focus of the revival don't need hardcovers, given their length and scope. To me, softcovers telegraph the idea of books that are meant to be used in play and play is another important focus of the revival. These games aren't reference works or art objects; they're rules for play.
Now, allow me to be gloomy and say that I do not believe that having Labyrinth Lord (or any other retro-clone) in distribution is going to set the world on fire and give birth to a new Golden Age. As Jeff Rients powerfully pointed out years ago, that ship left the port long ago. Old school gaming will, at best, enjoy another (much smaller) faddishness for a time and then most everyone will go back to doing what they were doing before. I happen to think that's OK, actually, because I'm not here for the money and fame (as if there were any). All this said, I think there are enough gamers out there who'd be interested in retro-clones like Labyrinth Lord that their being able to pick up a copy in the local game store is a boon for all concerned. Remember, too, that Lulu's shipping costs are prohibitive for people in many parts of the world, so a distribution deal will help some of them.
Second, LL Revised will be perhaps the first "professional" retro-clone released to date. Not only will it be available through "regular" channels, but all its art was contracted and paid for by Goblinoid Games. For some, that's probably not a big deal and, for some others, it may have even be a negative, given the emphasis the old school renaissance has placed on community sharing and collaboration. For me, I think, once a product starts making money, it's important that all involved are fairly compensated for their contributions. Most old school products these days don't make enough money for that to be an issue, I suspect, so I take this as a sign that Labyrinth Lord is entering "the big leagues," said big leagues being entirely relative and probably a figment of my over-active imagination.
All in all, I see this latest news to be a huge positive for the old school renaissance and I hope that other retro-clones will follow in its footsteps.