The riddle of why a 212-storey, alien-like structure appeared in Microsoft Flight Simulator’s depiction of Melbourne has been solved.
Architectural student Nathan Wright made an edit to the website OpenStreetMap last year as part of his degree work but accidentally wrote the building to be ‘212’ levels rather than simply two.
In Microsoft Flight Simulator a bizarrely eldritch, impossibly narrow skyscraper pierces the skies of Melbourne's North like a suburban Australian version of Half-Life 2's Citadel, and I am -all for it- pic.twitter.com/6AH4xgIAWg
— Alexander Muscat (@alexandermuscat) August 19, 2020
Microsoft Flight Simulator has recreated the whole world in detail in part by drawing on information from its equivalent of Google Maps – Bing Maps – but this in turn imports some information from the Wikipedia-like platform OpenStreetMap.
“I think it’s so funny as it was the first time I was using OpenStreetMap,” Wright told website The Verge. “I was using it for a university task and had to add data for class. I didn’t think I would have to see it again.”
Since the structure has appeared, players have tried to land on it and recorded their efforts on YouTube.
Last week, Australian Aviation revealed that the Sydney Harbour Bridge was excluded from the game and London’s Buckingham Palace, home of the Queen, has been rendered to resemble a generic office block.
Apparently, the new Microsoft flight sim has used AI to map the entire world. But it's not done it all that great, and turned Buckingham Palace into a generic 90s office block. https://t.co/hgJnGmauPI pic.twitter.com/KybFG7XOf9
— Oli Mould (@olimould) August 18, 2020
Microsoft hinted that these issues will be corrected in future, saying in a statement, “We will continue to update, expand and refine Microsoft Flight Simulator for years to come.”
The sim received gushing reviews from some of the world’s most prestigious computer game websites and newspapers, after its release.
Eurogamer rated the new version ‘Essential’ and said it was a “technical marvel” that demonstrated the “joys of flight”; IGN said it had “never seen anything close to this level of accuracy in a flight simulation before”; while The Guardian gave it five stars and said it “captures the wonder of flight, and the spiritual and emotional rush of seeing the world in a different way”.
Previously, Microsoft confirmed to Australian Aviation that the game allows players to take off and land at 613 airports in Australia and 37,000 globally.
It features a special “hand-crafted” replica of Sydney Airport, shown in a video below, including animated windsocks reacting to real-life weather; staff going about their work and accurate signs and taxiways.
Players can fly around this world in up to 30 aircraft ranging from the A320neo to a Cessna 152 and Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. All feature accurate cockpits with realistic controls and instrumentation.
The sim comes in three versions, ranging from US$60–US$120, with the Deluxe and Premium editions including more planes and airports.