I think the only real answer here is that each choice should have a meaningful variant to some degree, and it entirely depends on what kind of story you are trying to make. For stat-based stories (personally my least favorite), there should obviously be choices that affect your stats for later checks. For more narrative/character-driven stories, the choices should reflect meaningful outcomes, typically regarding NPC reactions or dialogue differences. This in itself is a dangerous pit. For example, just because an MC chooses two sarcastic options does not mean they should be rabbit-holed into a sarcastic character. People are nuanced, they aren’t always shy or always flirty, different situations illicit different responses. I think the key is to make choices meaningful, whether a stat increase or a different narrative dialogue result. Choices should matter (aside from innocuous choices like hair color, which should be referenced a few times but have no meaningful impact). The worst thing you can do is make meaningless choices (ie: no matter what you pick, the result is the same).
It depends. Do you prefer to spread it out so that the reader can have more activity? If so then you could make it consistent, but it could end up being too flat for the reader. Choices that will lead to different endings have different requirements and impacts say, picking an eye color vs saving someone. While generality is great, it is still loosely defined. Specific answers will require specific questions. A niche is a niche. For example, saying a compliment to someone, it’s nice, sure, yet it doesn’t have the same weight as giving a gift. It will vary, and that is a good thing because it enhances a story, it makes it feel like it has a flow.
Pretty bland answer but as long as it’s not being overused, it is fine. Because sometimes it does come up, sometimes it can be useful. An example would be asking questions, what would there be to add a +1 for, it’s mostly just for the reader to learn about the world of your story and to engage with it.
Again, it really depends, while it can be intriguing to think about, I argue that it won’t work well in a story to be too general. Writing can be very similar to art, a form of expression. Sure, you can make something with one or two colors, but it won’t feel complete. And sometimes the “filler” or “void” can be great if utilized well. Take my comments with a grain of salt, I only recently started writing my interactive novel.
This post may have some viewpoints that can overlap with your questions.
From my point of view, in the case that you only play the game once, you can be playing a game that has a lot of choices on each point that all lead to the same output and maybe you never find that out. The first time you play a game you don’t know where the other choices lead, so if the choices don’t affect the story you could be feeling the exact opposite (until a certain point obviously)
Now, for branching your game, you can add different reactions for a npc, let’s say 0-30 / 30-60 / 60-100 % of relationship, you’ll have to write three times more than if the interaction with that character would be linear, and that’s only for one, if you have five characters and do that with everyone you’ll have a lot more.
I think it must be a balance, in the grade that choices affect things and the ramification control you need to do to not spiral down into an unfinishable monster that has too many branches.
Maybe what matters most is the story and not the choices. Maybe you can make a game with a few variables that only has two endings and it sells like gold and another with lot of choices and paths and it ends up gray and dull cause it’s all it has, choices.
It’s nice when you encounter a few choices that make you stop to think hard about which one you should choose, but I don’t think it is strictly necessary all of them be like that. You have a lot to play with, maybe even make it backwards, where simple choices are the ones that affect the story the most…