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Digital Reality: Microsoft asked us to "tone down" Sine Mora difficulty

But "we were allowed to go crazy" with higher difficulty settings

Have you downloaded Sine Mora yet? Because it's really, really good - a beautiful, original "bullet hell" shooter in which health equals time. Kill enemies to add seconds to your life counter, but get clocked in return and those precious instants will peel away, along with any weapon power-ups you've accumulated.

It's a tough play... but it could have been tougher still. Fearful of deterring pain-averse players, Microsoft requested that developers Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture dial down the game's normal difficulty.

"As fans of the genre know, shmups have always tended towards the harder difficulty," creative director Theodore Reiker told AllAboutTheGames. "In the Story campaign, you have the normal and challenging difficulties, then in arcade mode you have hard and insane levels of difficulty, so there are a few different levels of difficulty.

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"And I think the biggest added value of having Microsoft as the publisher on this title is that they never felt like the normal setting would be too inaccessible for players new to the genre, who haven't been playing the recent crop of bullet hell games.

"Microsoft asked us to tone it down, but it never mattered about the harder difficulties. We were allowed to go as crazy as we want to with those, but with the normal setting, we were asked to keep it approachable and accessible for players who are new to the genre. For us the easy setting is the normal setting, and that's what we believe is suitable."

Question for the thread: how do you make a game simultaneously accessible and challenging without portioning off the challenge bit as a higher difficulty setting? What's the secret to making a game "easy to pick up, hard to master"?

Pick up Sine Mora here for 1200 MP. Go on, you deserve it. You deserve the pain.

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