Veteran BioWare designer Matt Rhodes has posted an array of Mass Effect concept art from throughout the sci-fi trilogy which hints at early ideas for the series' characters and conclusion.
A "very, very early idea for Shepard" was that he would turn to Reaper technology to accomplish his goals and become something akin to Mass Effect 1 villain Saren.
In a cyclical twist and a mirror of the first game's Saren confrontation, Shepard would eventually have been confronted by the new human spectre (Ashley or Kaiden, depending on your Mass Effect 1 choice).
The art, posted on Rhodes' blog, includes designs dating back to the series' origins. In particular, Rhodes worked on a number of designs for Tali's face - "when her appearance under the mask wasn't a big deal yet".
Rhode's definitive Mass Effect 1 concept for Tali was an alien-looking design with white skin and cat-like eyes.
"The debate about whether or not to reveal Tali's face was one that lasted a long time. Versions of her were being worked on fairly often," he explains in accompanying notes. "Personally, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to push players to the edge. Tali was like a pen pal, or a friend you've only ever known online. Depending on how attached to her a player was, how well could they handle her appearance challenging their expectations?
"If she looked a little too alien, just a little too repellant, would they still feel the same way about her? Or did her personality and your history together trump appearances? It's an interesting area to explore and I hope we can find other ways to ask that question."
It's an intriguing idea, but one that had obviously been dropped by Mass Effect 3's release. Tali's face was eventually shown to those who romanced the character and her design was based on the Photoshop of a human stock photo model - something which angered some of the character's fans.
Another set of images shows creepier versions of Mass Effect 2's final boss, the Human Reaper. Earlier designs toyed with the idea of making it in the shape of an infant:
Rhodes also posted a large number of concepts for Mass Effect 3's humanoid version of EDI. Some early designs evoked more classical robot architecture, with less of a human look.
The gallery is well worth a gander - there's some Dragon Age concept art in there too.