Mass Effect is a blockbuster franchise with a legion of loyal followers, and certain pieces of information about Mass Effect 3 are on everyone's must-know list. What characters are returning? How will Shepard's choices affect the fate of the galaxy? However, some questions about the series go off the beaten path; they are born from an attention to detail, an affinity for speculation, and the will to thoroughly read the in-game codex. To get answers (or at least hints of answers) pertaining to these topics, we talked to Mass Effect 3's lead writer, Mac Walters. Some may dismiss the following interview as trainspotting, but dedicated Mass Effect fans are likely to learn a few tidbits of tantalizing info – and learn which storylines might resurface in the trilogy's conclusion.

GI: Was the fact that Harbinger is a Reaper supposed to be a surprise at the end of ME2? It was presented like a reveal, but players (and Shepard) would have to be pretty dense to not have it figured out.
No, it wasn't meant to be a surprise, but it was important that we make the connection clearly at the end of the game. The goal was to reveal just how close the Reapers were to returning to our Galaxy, and to foreshadow the fate of humanity if Shepard failed to stop them.

On the original cover of Mass Effect: Revelation, both of Saren’s arms appear normal. However, in the first game, one of them is clearly made from Geth/Reaper technology. Did this aspect of his design change during development?
Good eye! It is common for most of our characters, especially those as important as Saren, to go through many revisions throughout the course of the game. And it's not just the visual concept – the voice, background, and even the gender of our characters can change (Saren got off lucky with just an arm change!). However, in this case, the difference is because we’re seeing Saren before he was indoctrinated and working with Sovereign (the time period for Revelation was about 18 years prior to the events of Mass Effect).
Why do most of the Reapers we’ve seen so far have similar insect-like appearances? The human Reaper looked different, but otherwise it seems like the Reapers mainly build themselves out of bugs. Is that correct?
The exterior of the Reapers does follow a similar pattern, an efficient design for the purpose they were created for. However each Reaper is created from a unique species, and as we saw at the end of Mass Effect 2, the core of each Reaper is designed in the likeness of that species.

In ME 2, Conrad Verner seems to the think that Shepard held a gun to his face, even if players chose the paragon option in ME 1. Was this just a glitch, or is there some story reason behind this?
Well, it may have been a glitch, or maybe Conrad was just having an off day (even more off than usual). Stay tuned in Mass Effect 3 to see how Verner deals with this embarrassing misstep with Shepard.

Where is the Illusive Man physically located during the course of Mass Effect 2? What’s going on with that colorful cosmic display outside his window?
The colorful cosmic display is a clue to the location of the Illusive Man, which I can't reveal. Not yet.