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Tried to mimic the basic look of GenArt's Sapphire Zap in 3D
Features: -Fully animated -Controls to direct path -Basic branch control -Animate strike -Multiple bolts -Control Incandescence
The controls are very basic and easy to use, though are currently a little limited. You can go into the settings of the paintfx brush to get more control over the look of it. Future revisions will probably include more controls so you don't have to dive in. To duplicate the lightning, select the top group node and Duplicate Special with the "Duplicate input graph" selected. Move the effect with the main controller and not the top group node.
Should work in most recent versions of Maya, though only tested in 2015