My Dear Mr. Duk:
Attached is a hypercard stack which allows you to compare our current continent generation algorithm with a new, modified version.
The stack takes about ten minutes to generate a 50 frame movie of the old algorithm and about five minutes to generate a 26 frame movie of the new algorithm. Extensive comments are provided in the script of the NEW ALGORITHM button (command-option-click the button to view the script).
Basically, the new algorithm does two things: it provides for the creation of impassible mountains in continents, and it makes the continents much "beefier." I think both of these things are needed and, although the clump method has produced some improvement, I don't think clumps will ever completely solve the "stringy continent" problem.
The new algorithm is only slightly more complicated than the old. Basically, it divides growth into three phases. During the relatively brief first phase, land grows like water around the original mountain sparks. During the second phase no new mountains are produced and the sea begins to grow around the land. When about half of the positions have been assigned phase three kicks in: a simple cutoff in which all remaining unassigned positions are set to sea. This cutoff combats the tendency of the new beefy continents to grow together into a single world spanning super-continent and also cuts generation time in half.
This is my first cut at a modified algorithm, but it looks very promising. Let me know if you agree and how much trouble you would have implementing this method. The various fudge factors will need some adjustment; I'll keep working on the problem.
Incidentally, one interesting phenomenon that arises under the new method is the occassional appearance of a mountainous atoll, a single mountainous spark island. Since engineers are the only piece which can set foot on a mountain, they are the only piece that could disembark on such a rock (from a transport only). Once there, however, they could contruct a radar installation, upon which other pieces, including the helicopter, could then land and occupy. Kinda cool.
Yours in haste,