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Oscar-winning director founded TODAY scores $5M for AI-powered social simulation game

TODAY game
Picture credits: TODAY

Social simulation games lack deep, realistic Non-Playable Character (NPC) interactions which limit player immersion and reduce relationships to superficial exchanges. However, gamers are ready for an elevated experience with real storytelling and narrative evolution. To instill characters with humanity and nuance, TODAY was created by an Oscar-winning team. 

Headquartered in the US, TODAY is a social simulation game that combines advanced AI and true digital ownership to deliver a more adaptive and fun experience for players. Now, the company has $5 million in a seed round co-led by Sfermion and Big Brain. 

The funding round also saw participation by GSR, Collab+Currency, Lingfeng Innovation Fund, Compute Ventures, Builder Capital, Tommy Tran, Metavest Capital, 32 Bit Ventures, Dingaling, Grail, and Spirit DAO.

The funding will further develop TODAY’s proprietary character engine, which leverages advanced AI to create intelligent NPCs and to expand its no-code creator tools for players. Powered by generative AI, these robust tools give players the creative freedom to build nearly anything they can imagine as they create their own Islands in TODAY’s dreamy universe. 

AI-powered social simulation gaming

TODAY was founded by Michael O’Connor, a Nintendo and SEGA games veteran and Oscar-winning writer-director Benjamin Cleary. It was built alongside a veteran team from Nintendo, SEGA, Epic Games, and Unity. 

In the dreamy universe of TODAY, players build their own virtual worlds called Islands and care for Residents, AI NPCs who become their island companions. As players develop their Island and nurture their Residents, they address five fundamental needs: Home, Relationships, Skills, Fashion, and Entertainment. This framework guides players through a rich tapestry of activities, peppered with fun mini-games and challenges to keep the gameplay diverse and engaging.

TODAY will launch its alpha early next year, with periodic play tests announced in the Discord

Co-founder Michael O’Connor said, “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. This seed round accelerates the development of our vision to build the most immersive, rewarding and unique social sim ever created.”

Co-founder Benjamin Cleary, who won an Oscar for his live-action short Stutterer said, “Storytelling is the heart of TODAY. Our story-first approach fosters genuine emotional connections with the characters in our game. We’re crafting emotionally resonant, emergent gameplay that’s unique for each player. So, as players build their Islands with generative AI, they immerse themselves deeply in a narrative that evolves with them.”

Sam Kim, General Partner at Big Brain added: “The TODAY team is building something truly special, leveraging breakthroughs in LLMs and AI to introduce dynamically responsive and hyper-realistic AI agents in an alluring, generative virtual world. As the gaming industry continues to mature, incorporating elements of crypto and AI, the realism and immersion—bolstered by deep emotional connections and economic consequences—will completely transform how users engage and interact. We’re excited to see this new experience unfold with TODAY.”

Dan Patterson, General Partner at Sfermion added: “Sfermion is incredibly excited to join forces with the TODAY team on their groundbreaking vision. AI, UGC, and crypto are not simply buzzwords; they’re being used in unique ways to create virtual worlds that transcend the boundaries of traditional gaming, and foster a community-driven experience unlike anything seen before. This partnership marks a pivotal moment in the evolution of gaming, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.”

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