I'm trying to find useful information on creating game levels in a reasonably efficient way. Additionally, information in setting up a fairly painless way to edit this information would be handy (the closest I've come is some monstrosity in Flash; I would place the parts onto the stage, and run a script reading all the platforms, triggers and what have you, into an XML document).
Google hasn't been to terribly helpful in finding what I need (probably what terms I'm using as I'm not sure exactly how I would refer to this). I'm hoping there may be someone here who knows of a good solid article on handling the data for a level.
I've made a few attempts in previous projects (the latest being in Flash using XML), and I often run into issues with performance (in my case, I narrowed it down to having to many objects loaded, and started culling what was outside my view, was still slow though...).
To clarify a bit. I'm not afraid of investing time in developing tools. I don't have a specific game I am making this for so much as I am wanting to learn about the theory behind a level editor and the files it would generate to be used as a level. I'm looking to understand what goes on in a program and thus far have been un-successful in finding anything to help educate me on what makes such a system tick.
I am particularly interested in knowing how to make one that's 'good' rather than 'works'. I've already gotten something working in XML on my own, however it was poorly structured and excessively slow for relatively small levels. I am sure there are better ways to organize the information for loading and using on the screen, its more a matter of me being unsure what to use. I've heard talk of using binary space trees, quad or oct trees, however I haven't found much related to using them in a tool. (Most of what I have found is academic and more or less to abstract to make use of outside of theory)