A mysterious press release sent out last week hinted at the formation of a new studio led by Company of Heroes producer John Johnson. The text pointed to cryptic website Exoriare.com, Latin for "rise", which was quickly recognized as a hotbed of secrets relating to both the studio and their first project. Now that Smoking Gun Interactive is out in the open, John Johnson has a lot to say about his plans for the fledgling studio.

Smoking Gun will focus on broadening the real-time strategy genre by looking for ways to "revolutionize and merge the strategy genre with others". According to Johnson, Exoriare.com offers a few clues about the game. One group of fans discovered a trail of hints leading to an abandoned airfield in Death Valley. Two runways crossed there, forming an "X" that hid an "artifact" buried by the Smoking Gun team. A plaque was there with strange markings and Morse code that read "this is smoking gun". A video of the unearthing is embedded after the break. Note to other game studios: this is how you promote your game.

An interview on Next-Gen.biz is filled with more of Johnson's often cryptic thoughts on his studio and videogames in general.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.