Players have applauded Microsoft’s updated Flight Simulator for realistically recreating all of the splendor the planet has to offer—including 550 cities, nearly 197 square miles land and sea—using machine learning to model 3D structures via satellite imagery from Bing Maps. Of the myriad unexplored attractions, though, pilots can not resist the thrall of The Spire: an architecturally-suspect 212-story skyscraper of Tolkienesque proportions towering over the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
“Ȁ̛̺̪̳͔͓̀̔̏LL͈̟͒͐ ̦͕̭̅̄̾H̢̧̡̛̝͑͒͘A͎̽I̩̟͚̊̾̿̆͢L̢̉ ͖̤͕̆̀͠T͖̓H̡͠E̠͝ ̞̹͛͡S̤̥̱̮̊̑͐̀͊͢Ṕ̤͍͎̜̇̉̚͢͝I̼̥͂̉R̘̓Ę̜̖̀̈́͠,” Gizmodo’s sister site Kotaku wrote yesterday of the creation. In addition to cultish devotion, the mystery skyscraper (not actually real) has inspired an investigation. If you would prefer to preserve the magic, skip the next few paragraphs. If you’re a godless heathen, we can tell you that some hunting revealed that someone using the open-source mapping platform Openstreetmap—from which Microsoft’s Bing Maps pull data—had accidentally added hundreds of stories to what was supposed to be a suburban residence. The Creator, 25-year-old Nathan Wright, told Gizmodo Australia that he’d been assigned to input data on the Melbourne suburbs for an assignment and, he admitted, made a few mistakes. But like the God of the Old Testament, was like “fuck it, I don’t care.” And lo, an almighty monolith pierced the sky.
The error has since, reportedly, been fixed in Openstreetmap, but it’s unclear as of this writing whether the update has been patched into the game. (Shamefully, no Gizmodo staffer on this shift has made it through the Flight Simulator’s tutorial.)
“Although I haven’t had a chance to revisit the obelisk, I caught a stream today of people flocking to it,” game designer Alexander Muscat told Gizmodo. “Apparently the airspace around it is some of the busiest in the game at the moment—while it lasts!” Muscat holds out hope that other developers might insert their own creations after the company inevitably smites the aberration. Microsoft has told Australian Aviation, which picked up on a few oddities, that the game will be updated “for years to come.”
Flight Simulator has more promising surprises in store. Almost immediately after the game’s release, a traffic jam backed up on the private island once belonging to Jeffrey Epstein; former gaming journalist Hayden Dingman noticed highways oozing off the side of Irish cliffs; and the BBC reported that Buckingham Palace looks like an apartment compound from the exclusion zone. Even minor landmarks of internet celebrity, like the infamous Groverhaus, aren’t safe from a torrent of virtual 747s.
At this rate we’re about five days from random goofballs in internet planes discovering overlooked evidence of Atlantis, and I honestly can’t decide if that would be good or bad.