A classic question, and probably with classic answers. But let's ask it anyway since the last time I made such an effect was back in the sprite-era. How to make a good looking gunfire muzzle flash effect? I'm mainly talking about the short flame, thus not the smoke and heat afterwards.
I can think of 3 techniques:
1- Just make 1 short "flame" sprite facing towards the camera
2- Make multiple crossed quads with that sprite effect (but how to combine and blend properly then?)
3- Do it in 3D with particles
Notice I only need the effect for a first person view, so you won't be able to see (much) of the effect asides. That makes the need of a 3D effect less important.
I'm guessing trick 3 is the common way to go nowadays. But then my next question would be how to define this rather complex effect? I mean, drawing a flame sprite is easy. But generating a good looking one with particles is different stuff. Are there (free) tools to define such effects in a handy way (and store them so I can load the effect later on?). I have particle building methods in my engine, but it's pretty basic. Each particle would need a timeline, movement, animation, fade-in / fade-out, texture sprite frames, and so on.