Correct you are Sirs ....
I've read almost every version of EPT since the first and the authors struggle to describe the setting in simple terms.
This one is pretty good in just stating the differences. Most versions, I would have to read 200 pages in 3 books of small font to see much of this.
Since, I'm not playing the game seriously, it's not worth the effort.
(I thought the D20 version would be pretty good and it was pretty ... but ... the timing on that beast was terrible.)
Aligning with the "Black Hack" isn't critical to me ... but ... the rules should be as simplistic as possible ... and for the D20 crowd, the Black Hack is it.
Nothing revolutionary ... just reasonable ..... and ... free.
The FreeStyle version jumped right into the mechanics and Q&D's and skilled the background. We didn't need it for our purposes. But, it's needed to spread the word.
The game does need to do something with the maps ... the first version on the vinyl is so nice that doing maps after that makes no sense. Unless the map was somehow different. Like, show it as knotted cords or whittled branches. For gaming it would serve the same purpose but would remain alien, different.
Say for example, to travel somewhere, you would go to the appropriate clan or Government organization for the "fill in random word here" K'chagra ... the cord of travel. To travel to Yan Kor, follow this cord. The instructions for travel would be on the cord.
Exit Bey Su by the Red Gate. Travel by Sakbe road for three Suns. Avoid the Forest of bent pillars. Take the road to the East at the Garrison of Green Stone. Continue on for nine Suns .... blah, blah, blah.
Don't get off course ... or ... well ... you are dead men walking anyway.
There's no reason it could not be based on a map and rough ideas would be known ... but a surveyed map would not be available for every inch of the Empire.
Just a thought.