I'm still on the opinion that the fact that the player has to play with a preset character only shows the authors laziness.
Listen, Cari-san... Role playing as a character with a predefined personality isn't something that I invented. It's been around since the dawn of roleplaying. Hell, the Witcher series, which is one of the most successful RPG franchises of all time has a main protagonist with a set gender, name and personality. Are you calling them lazy too?
One of the main reasons why you can't change the name and gender of your character is because I'm aiming to make it as obvious as possible from the start that in this game you are playing as a predefined character. This way, people who don't enjoy such an experience will know not to play it from the start. I even wrote the whole game in first person, to further drive home the fact that you and the MC are two separate entities. I am fully aware that some people dislike the idea of not being able to make their own character in an RPG or CYOA, and I would not recommend this game to any of them, including you, because I know that it can ruin the experience.
I see that you enjoyed the game Zombie Exodus. I haven't played the game, but I'm going to assume that it offers a lot of character customization. The thing with zombie apocalypse games is that you can introduce any kind of character in that setting, and you'll get the plot going. The zombies are attacking. What am I going to do?
Trying to survive a zombie apocalypse is something that anyone would want, so you don't need a special kind of character for that. But how many scenarios do you think really work like that? I can think of a handful. For example, you can make a game where your main character has amnesia, and he finds himself on a mysterious island, or you can make a game where you are a prisoner somewhere, and you are trying to escape, or something else along these lines.
The premise of my game is that the main character, Barry, has dreamed of being a mage his whole life, and the only way he's found to accomplish this goal is by winning a tournament against the most powerful mages in the world. Who in their right mind would do such a thing? No one. That's the whole idea. You're not supposed to play as yourself, or as a custom character. You're supposed to steer this character in the right direction, while you are being offered choices that are consistent with his personality. If I went with how a normal person would react in this situation, then the first choice in the game would have been: Should I join this deadly tournament full of mages when I've got no power whatsoever? No? Game over, you win.
It's the same for the Witcher series. The whole idea of the game is that you are playing as a Witcher, with no emotions, and that you are like a sort of mercenary who is getting paid to hunt for monsters. You are not playing as a cardboard cutout character, you are roleplaying as a Witcher named Geralt, who has his own backstory and personality. These things give the main character substance. You're not going to get offered the choices of not hunting for monsters. It's what your character does. But that doesn't mean that you won't get to customize your experience, throughout the game. You'll just have to do it in a way that is consistent with your character's personality.
It's two different kinds of roleplaying. Roleplaying as your own character, and roleplaying as a predefined character. The disadvantage of making a game where you can roleplay your own character is that we're not living in an ideal world, where you can offer infinite choices to players. Making widely different scenarios for a story takes time, and every time you offer a choice that splits the story into two, you double the amount of words that you'll have to write by the end. I've seen countless WIPs on this forum die early because of this very reason. People think that it's easy to provide countless choices because it's a text game, but it's not. Writing a book takes time. Writing a thousand books instead of one is impossible.
That's why most COG/ HG authors that have actually finished their games and that chose to provide the player with character customization have had to compromise in some way. Some of them compromised by making the main character into a blank slate. The character will have no personality, no backstory, no motivations, and there will be no consistency between choices. Is this a good thing? Arguable. Some people will like it better this way, because they have more freedom. Other people will feel like they're playing a cardboard cutout instead of a real character, and they'll get bored. There is no way in which you can provide the player with enough choices to really shape their character in the way they want. You can't have the player choose all of the dialogues. At some point, the character will have to speak for themselves. And it is at that point that such a character will start to seem empty for some people.
Other Choice of Games have gone a second route, and have decided to add the choice of gender and a name in a game where you play a predefined character. They just switch the pronouns and the name around for different playthroughs, but they don't change anything else. I preferred to make things obvious from the get-go.
Having a predefined character will allow for better interaction between the characters, and it will make your companions feel less like NPCs, and more like real people. Some people will gladly pay the price of less customization, for a more immersive experience. Other people will not be able to get immersed unless they are playing their own character.
You can't just decide for others what is good and what is bad. If you don't like the idea, then just move on, and play another game. There are plenty of options on the market, ranging from text games, to full-blown RPGs.