It looks like instead of adjusting the TIME for the modes, Josh allows adjusting the DIFFICULTY in the modes. See the Feature adjustments and lower the mode values if you want it to be easier. Nothing wrong with that for the home user, thats why the options exist.
Handcuffs in Handcuff Escape The number of handcuffs multiplied by the number of pops per handcuff determines the level of difficulty.
• Handcuffs needed represents how many ‘levels’ are in the mode.
At each level, Houdini throws a pair of handcuffs/chains out from behind the display.
• Options: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
• Default: 6
Drop this to 4 to make it easier. Looks like every mode has an adjustment.
Quoted from konjurer:
Have you given any more thought to adding a setting to adjust the mode difficulty such as extending the time to complete? Certain podcasters this past week went out and played the game with 1 minute average ball times. They speculated that the game was not approachable by average players on location (I'm paraphrasing). Houdini has developed a reputation that it is brutal. Brutal is good to a point but I wonder if that growing reputation is going to hurt sales. I love the rules and I'm having a blast. But it is frustrating that the mode times are so short making it hard for novice to intermediate players to make progress into the game.
Hopefully you are considering the suggestion and keep up the great work!