Well there's a few things here since we're talking ancient history.
Novalogic as a company and management, I'd venture to say that they had no particular love for Tachyon. It was a business, the end.
The dev team was the ones who were passionate about Tachyon, and as the story goes they were inspired by the other games coming out, the sci fi of the time, and
literally sketched out some ideas on a napkin, went to their boss to get moderate funding, and went from there. Novalogic cut the project short and demanded it ship,
by which point many of the key devs were looking to greener pastures, and moving away. A couple devs stayed behind long enough to make the 3-4 patches to fix the worst
of the problems of the time.
None of them expected Tachyon to get such a cult following as it did and get such large international appeal.
By the time Novalogic started on Delta Force Angels Falls, they'd already spent a few years hawking the game library digitally over GameTap and a couple other early Steam Store wanna-be's.
Based on what I heard there was only one or two devs from Tachyon's dev team still at Novalogic by 2008/09 when we inquired.
As to the gates, the beta is one potential solution. The SOL gate is the way it is because it was used for that cutscene. They didn't create a dummy gate to replace it post intro, so it's literally a leftover.
The gate that dumps you into a void, is because that gate doesn't have a target map file if I remember correctly. You can replicate this in multiplayer maps by not picking a destination gate in the editor.
As to free roam, I'm pretty sure I remember after you finish the campaign you can just reload the game and it goes back to before the final battle, you can free roam that way.
For several months RK hosted a multiplayer server that had all the HUB areas accessible. I didn't look into it, but I think that's just something where you'd you'd simply setup the acessory files to use whatever campaign map, and the rest of the game doesn't care. Since the host system controls it it would work. The troublesome part is if you modifiy the map files then you have to distribute them to all players.
This is why TSB exists, because if you load a multiplayer player into a server running a map they don't have, or a background they don't have, it'll either crash, or they'll get in game but they can't see anything.
But yeah ultiamtely 11 sector multiplayer maps were a thing, I want to say either 11 or 13 was the highest. It just didn't play well, it was more for ****s n giggles.
1, 3, 4, 5, 7 were what we stuck with for playability. Doesn't mean that you couldn't do more. RAM used to be a limitation, but that's hardly a concern anymore. There were also server tools made by modders
that allowed you to ban by IP, kick players, etc. But they were all exe based, so they were mostly dropped after the lobby moved hosts and the IP became too long.