Personally, I don't hold video games to the writing standards of novels. Especially not to the standards of the best novelists in the genre. Usually, in a video game, the narrative plays second fiddle to the gameplay, and is often just there to support and contextualize the gameplay. There are games where the story has primacy, but they are rare, and most often smaller indie titles.
I choose to hold games to the same standards as novels, because I think given time they can get there, but if we aren't critical of them, they never will. Not only that, but I think games are much better suited to tell stories and have better tools to convey information as well. You can, "show" a substantive amount, without doing any direct telling. A very good example of a game that does this is morrowind. People in each city, in each ashlander tribe even, have different ways of dressing, different cultural norms and react differently to the player. None of this is directly told to you as the player, it is shown to you through how they dress and how they behave. This is information you can intuit, without any text required to provide the additional context.
Games as a story telling medium have a huge potential, you can, for example, show emotion through facial features and NPC mannerisms rather than by telling the player directly. These are things which are not adequately taken advantage of by AAA games, but they really should be!
I love the idea of artists not compromising their vision and all that, but I accept that that is not really possible for any game which has a big team and a big budget. A painter or a novelist can make exactly the art that springs purely from their own creative soul, because they're not investing millions of dollars into making that thing. They don't have a ton of other creatives also working on it with them, each with their own ideas. Video games can be art (I think Disco Elysium, Planescape: Torment, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Kentucky Route Zero, and others are art), but I'm skeptical that BIG video games can be art.
As I said, I am an idealist :P I will hold games to a higher standard than is realistically possible, because if you don't shoot for the moon, then we would never have the moon landing.
I agree that some more narrative underpinning should be given to Astarion's attraction to the player, but how early does it need to be given? What if you go through almost the whole game thinking that Astarion is into you, only for him to reveal near the end that he was just manipulating you, because he's a vampire and that's what he's learned to do to survive. Maybe he was straight originally, but hundreds of years as a vampire have shifted his sexuality for purely strategic reasons. Also, some people have complicated sexualities where they are almost entirely attracted to one gender, but occasionally attracted to a different one.
Good questions and I am not poised to answer them, but my complaint was more about player sexual companions in general and not about Astarion. If it is explained further within the narrative, great, it isn't a problem, if not, well then we have an example of what is in my opinion, a poorly characterized character. It is better in my opinion to raise the criticism now and hope they take note of it and address it further on in the story, than not say anything at all.
I have a friend who is a 43-year-old gay man. He has been gay since he was a child, totally gay, unequivocally gay. He never even questioned his gayness. Attracted only to men, that was for his whole life. But just this year, he met a woman and was attracted to her and now has a girlfriend. He doesn't even understand why! (But yes, if my friend was a character in the game, it would of course make sense for all of that to be explicitly part of the story.)
I have a friend who recently went through a divorce. She was married to a guy for 21 years and she got a divorce because he came out as gay. It turned out he was not interested in her at all, but he wanted to experience what it was like to have a family plus raise kids and so he went through all of that in order to have the experience. As you could imagine it was very traumatic for her, but in cases like this, there should, most of the time, be a plausible explanation.
I'm okay with some characters not being romanceable, or with no characters being romanceable. Lots of RPGs that I love have no romances. But I think if they're gonna have them, they might as well write them in such a way that they work no matter what gender a player picks. Sure, if they have a specific sexuality, and you make that sexuality part of the actual story, then there can be more depth there, but I don't mind a little loss of potential depth for the increased choice on the player's part. At least in a big-budget, mass-market, broadly-focused RPG like this, where the story is about other things and the romances are honestly just tacked on as a feature.
I am in agreement here, but with one caveat. If the artist wants to write a character which is obviously gay or straight, they should not make the character bisexual just to please the fans, they should stick to their original vision. Dorrian in Dragon Age inquisition would not be Dorrian if he was not gay for example, it was an integral part of his character (although we could argue he is probably not very well written, but that is another story entirely).
I think taking away player choices can absolutely tell a better story, if you have the luxury of making "telling the best possible story" your primary design pillar. I'm a bit of a game designer myself, and one of the projects I'm working on is an RPG in which you can only romance one character, and in fact you don't even have the option to not get into a relationship with her, as it's one of the main things the game is about. The whole story revolves around it, so player choice is not given in that instance. But I don't have to worry about the commercial viability of my product (my livelihood does not depend on it), and don't care how many people like it or don't like it. Larian Studios simply cannot think that way.
I am in a similar boat, except I am too lazy to actually make anything. I think procrastination is one of my primary character traits :P