Social sim ‘Today’ closes seed round to build Animal Crossings-like with AI NPCs and no-code building

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The project uses generative AI to power conversational non-player characters in a bespoke island metaverse

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Social sim ‘Today’ closes seed round to build Animal Crossings-like with AI NPCs and no-code building

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Today, a web3 firm creating a gaming experience also called “Today,” has raised $5 million in seed funding to build its ambitious Animal Crossings-like “social sim” featuring tradeable digital assets and non-player characters (NPCs) powered by generative artificial intelligence (AI). 

The basic premise of Today revolves around the sim’s digital real estate. Players use “seeds” of varying rarity to create their own island environment to explore. Depending on the rarity of the seed, the island will have different features, characters, and objects to explore.

The game is set to launch in early 2025, but a steady stream of work-in-progress videos shows off a gaming world reminiscent of the so-called “cozy games” genre. This includes titles such as Animal Crossings, Stardew Valley, and Sun Haven which are notable for providing a simulated social experience.

This is usually accomplished through the use of compelling non-player characters — agents that exist in a game to propel the story and challenge or assist the player characters controlled by human users — capable of imitating conversation through the use of scripted dialogue trees.

In Today’s case, the company says it intends to power its non-player characters with generative AI technology.

Generative AI includes popular tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Anthropic’s Claude models. These systems are capable of generating compelling speech on myriad subjects. Ostensibly, they could empower NPCs capable of endless conversation. However, it’s worth noting that even the most powerful generative AI systems have a tendency to output responses that contain false or nonsensical information.

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Per an interview with GamesBeat, Michael O’Connor, co-founder of Today, says the team’s intent is to replicate real-life relationship dynamics within the game:

“Social simulation games lack deep, realistic NPC interactions which limit player immersion and reduce relationships to superficial exchanges. We’re transforming expectations by replicating the nuances of real-life dynamics using advanced AI that gives our NPCs unparalleled depth and responsiveness.”

Done well, this could offer players a happy medium between the eventual banality of NPCs who’ve exhausted their scripted dialogue and the often-cacophonous experience that accompanies multiplayer gaming with other players.

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