According to Microsoft Flight Simulator, there’s a terrifying monolith in Australia, Buckingham Palace is just an office building, and Greenland reaches into outer space.
If you were to fly around in North Melbourne in real life, you’d be flying over sleepy suburban neighborhoods. If you were to fly over North Melbourne in Microsoft Flight Simulator, you’d get a glimpse of a terrifying alternate universe where an alien civilization has planted a spire that reaches high into the sky, its purpose as inscrutable as its origins.
But it turns out, this enormous black tower is less about Microsoft building a game that can peer into alternate dimensions and more due to some random dude’s typo.
Twitter user Liam O tells the story after pics of the narrow skyscraper started making the rounds on social media. To generate maps, MS Flight Simulator uses Bing Maps, which in turn gets its data from OpenStreetMap, an open-sourced free world map wiki.
About a year ago, OpenStreetMap user “nathanwright120” made an edit that indicated a building in Melbourne had 212 floors instead of just two. It was just a typo and it has since been corrected, but not before Bing Maps scraped that typo to use in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The end result is a narrow suburban building that’s been stretched to 212 floors. That makes it about 30% taller than the tallest building in the world. Someone was even stupid enough to land a Cessna on it.
It’s also not alone. A similar building has been located in the Italian countryside. More might be out there just waiting to be discovered.
And terrifying monoliths aren’t the only weird interaction between Microsoft Flight Simulator‘s AI-generated landscape and real-world map data. The AI does the best it can with the images it’s provided, but because those images are often from satellites, they don’t generally provide a look at a building’s sides. This has resulted in Buckingham Palace being rendered as a typical office building rather than a castle.
There are other weird errors too, like this Greenland glacier that was accidentally rendered 20,000 feet tall.
We’re sure that Microsoft is eventually going to fix these errors, but in the meantime, MS Flight Simulator is a weird place.
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