Microsoft Flight Simulator produces some stunning realism most of the time, but there’s the odd occasion where things go hilariously wrong. PC players inside simulated airplanes have been scouring the globe this week and have discovered some rather amusing glitches.
The biggest discovery is a giant mountain-high obelisk in Melbourne, Australia. The unusually tall building doesn’t exist in real life, but Bing Maps thinks a giant obelisk dominates the skies of northern Melbourne. Microsoft Flight Simulator utilizes Microsoft’s Bing Maps technology — streaming data directly from two petabytes of storage in the cloud — so it’s likely that this particular glitch is based on incorrect Bing Maps data.
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
Some Flight Simulator players have been visiting the obelisk at midnight, eager to get some pictures of the giant structure before it’s inevitably removed.
Giant obelisks aren’t the only things going awry in Microsoft Flight Simulator. The game uses Azure-powered procedural generation technology to fill any gaps in the Bing Maps data. Landmarks and bridges can’t be generated with AI, so they need to be built by hand. That leaves some parts of cities looking a little odd if you look too close.
Flight Simulator players discovered that Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of Britain’s monarchs, has been turned into an office building. Similarly, the Washington Monument in Washington DC has also been turned into a narrow skyscraper.
Over on the west coast, the game seems to be struggling with palm trees that line the streets of southern California. In Flight Simulator they’ve turned into weird angular structures jutting out of the ground like prehistoric shark teeth.
By far my favorite Microsoft Flight Simulator quirk is that it doesn’t know how to handle palm trees, so Southern California is full of these terrifying obelisks jutting forth from the pavement like so many teeth. pic.twitter.com/OqkmuSfimn
— Hayden Dingman (@haydencd) August 19, 2020
Some of the glitches could be down to the data streaming settings that players pick in Flight Simulator, though. One player discovered that TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida looks like it has been filled with grass with a sunken office-like building in the middle of the stadium.
We visited the TIAA Bank Field this morning, and it rendered in all its glory with all the data streaming settings enabled. It’s unlikely that Asobo Studio, the developers behind Microsoft Flight Simulator, fixed the stadium in less than 24 hours. Some of the visual glitches that people are experiencing could be related to internet connectivity to the streaming data used to power Flight Simulator, or simply due to players not enabling the full data download when the game is configured.
The glitches are more amusing than they are game breaking, and you’re not likely to notice some of the inaccuracies unless you’re flying low or you know how many buildings are supposed to look in a particular city or area. I’ve spent hours flying around parts of the world I’ve never visited in Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s still a stunningly realistic virtual version of our planet, even if some giant obelisks are creating some virtual air traffic over Australia.