Right now the aurora is a texture on several extruded splines that drape around each other. It looks alright on a still image, but I want them to dance and have a life cycle in realtime.. I think particles could do it.
My other experiment last week was with fire. Until now, I've used a simple placeholder, a 16-frame texture that comes with the free SDK that I looped on a single particle.
At night fires will really pop in the environment so it should look right. I want more than random-sized particles drifting upwards uniformly, I want volatile tendrils that flutter and dance before they rip away and die. In western society we don't spend enough time taming fire and we get mesmerized when we see it, so my gauge is that when I don't want to look away from it anymore I'm on the right track.
I like what I have so far so I can start tweaking it from here. It is also very customizable so I can make anything from a small twig-fire to a scorching hot pyre without losing the character of the flames.
Would love to hear any thoughts or questions, I'll try to make some tutorials and breakdowns too.
Stay tuned for more updates and videos soon!