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Realistic lasers?

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Being new at this I have no idea how to best go about this. I was thinking there is probably two options. Point sprites, or actual geometry. My ideas for geometry is: a: make it layered, so the laser appears to be more condense at the center. The kind of lasers Im trying to make can be seen here: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/sim/freelancer/images.html The ones in the second image are nice.

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Be advised that those lasers aren't "realistic", per se. They just look good. Real lasers in space would be practically invisible, because there is no particulate matter to scatter the beam.

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For the main part, you can use a rectangle, that billboard with the camera on one axis.

Then put 2D sprites for the ring effects we see in the effects.

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