Talking about symlinks is always confusing so let's take something sane as a reference, like the GNU tar documentation:
tararchives a symbolic link, it writes a block to the archive naming the target of the link. In that way, the
tararchive is a faithful record of the file system contents. When `--dereference' (`-h') is used with `--create' (`-c'),
tararchives the files symbolic links point to, instead of the links themselves.
That's also butler's behavior. It tries to be a faithful record of the file system contents.
Having that behavior by default is really useful because "dereferencing" symlinks makes (for example) macOS builds unnecessarily large - those often have symlinks in `YourApp.app/Contents/MacOS/Frameworks`. Linux builds also tend to have symlinks, although it's less standard (obviously!)
Since butler/wharf are entirely itch.io codebases, we can definitely add a `--dereference` option for your usecase - it won't be the default, but it still might make things better for you?