Computer sim gamers looking for a different type of building game, one that puts you directly in your customizable world, will find it and a whole lot more in the independently developed Minecraft. But before you set foot in your brand new world, you'll want to browse this starting guide to make sure you safely make it through the night.
Minecraft is best described as a sandbox-style building game, which means you are free to do whatever you want in your world without worrying about fulfilling certain objectives or following a pre-set campaign. Since the game is currently in beta phase, there's no tutorial or any sort of guidance. In fact, just trying to figure what to do within the first five minutes is enough to make some people give up.
Since your custom-created world in Minecraft is on a day-night cycle, the first thing you'll want to focus on is building some form of shelter. Why is this important? At night, various monsters come out, and they don't take kindly to strange visitors. They also seem to have some sort of internal GPS navigation, since they tend to find you no matter where you are. To ensure that you get through your first day, you'll need to prevent the monsters from getting to you. This means learning how to create a makeshift shelter.
Interacting with the environment is as simple as clicking on the left mouse button while standing in front of an object. If you want to gather some wood from a tree, for example, simply walk up to a tree, position the white cursor over a block, and press the left mouse button. Whoosh! You'll swing at the tree with your arm and cause damage (to the tree and not your arm, surprisingly enough). Now since rapidly clicking on things would be a fantastic way to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, holding down the left mouse button will automate the bashing action.
So holding down the left mouse button while standing in front of a tree will cause your arm to automatically batter the trunk until a nice cube of wood falls from it. You'll notice that you can keep removing chunks of wood from a tree, and the top won't come toppling down despite chunks of trunk disappearing one block at a time. It's one of the weird quirks you'll experience while playing Minecraft.
Okay, now that you have removed some blocks of wood, you can simply walk over any blocks on the ground to automatically add them to your inventory, which isn't much more than series of squares (everything in Minecraft is either cubes, squares, or blocks). You can continue to explore the world and harvest more resources with the "bashing" technique, such as wool from sheep, but you'll really want to create some sort of shelter ASAP. It's no fun dying at night.
The fastest and easiest way to create a shelter is to look for a nearby mountain or even a large hill. Walk up to its edge and then start jackhammering away at the side of it, cube by cube, by holding down the left mouse button. Voila, you now have your very own cave to call your own, and hang your hat if you had one. Now you don't want to get to ambitious with your digging, since one of the best parts about Minecraft is that you never truly know what's lurking just beyond a section of dirt, stone and so forth. You could accidentally tunnel your way into an underground lair or something. You don't want that on your first day of Minecrafting.
So now that you have your modest little cave, you still have to worry about one other little detail: the entrance. You may be safely surrounded by dirt and rock, but if you can enter your cave, so can the creatures of the night. For that reason, you'll want to barricade yourself in when it starts getting dark. To do so, you can use the wood you've gathered to create a barrier. Open up the inventory screen by tapping "I" on the keyboard, then drag a pile of wood into the 2x2 square at the top. You'll automatically create planks from the wood.
Highlight the planks in your inventory, then right click to place a stack near your entrance. A two by two doorway should be fine. Now you'll want to leave one space free so you can see when it becomes daytime again -- otherwise you'll be holed up in complete darkness. Later you'll be able to make torches, working doors, and other helpful items, but for now we're only concentrating on surviving the first night.
Once the day ends, monsters such as skeletons and spiders will start shuffling toward you. Since you have a single block open from your cave entrance, skeletons could still technically hit you with their arrows, but luckily for you they are miserable shots. Spiders will also try to infiltrate your abode, but they shouldn't be able to reach you. Once daytime hits, all monsters other than spiders will burst into flames, clearing the way for a new day of adventuring. If you see a spider, don't panic -- they won't attack you unless you attack them first.
After you've survived your first night, you can start exploring, gathering additional resources and crafting various tools or items you'll need to create a more substantial living space. Since you now understand how to create a quick shelter, you'll be able to survive the night no matter how far away you are from home.