Minecraft is an indie sandbox game that's rightly got a lot of press. It places you in an enormous pixelated 3D world that you can explore, mine and build in. The developer calls it 'a game about placing blocks while running from skeletons. Or something like that..'.
You have tons of freedom to build massive structures and explore endless monster-ridden caves. However, with no in-game instructions yet, it can be pretty confusing, and when the sun sets, if you haven't built yourself a lit shelter, you probably won't survive the monsters that spawn at night!
Here's my guide to surviving your first day and night in Minecraft:
The first thing you should look for is coal deposits. Head towards cliffs or hilly areas, and scan for coal, as seen in the picture above. This is a bit hit and miss, but shouldn't take too long if you keep moving. We're going to set up our shelter here.
Next, you'll need tools. Hold the left mouse button near tree trunks, and you'll start collecting wood, as above. Get about two tree's worth for now. Press I to open the inventory, drag the wood symbols into the Crafting box, and another symbol will appear. These are wooden planks, so left click until all your wood's been converted then drag the planks into your inventory.
We need a workbench, sticks and a wooden pick-axe for now. You can see how to make a workbench image above. Drop it, with a right click near the coal, right click on it and now you'll have a 6x6 crafting tool. You craft sticks by placing two planks vertically. The second image above shows you how to make a Pick-axe. Do so, and drag it into the bottom row of the inventory.
Select the pick-axe, and mine the coal, then dig a short corridor into the cliff. Open your inventory, and make torches, as seen above.
Right click on the wall of your corridor to place a torch, then select your axe and dig some more. You may need to replace your axe, and this time use some of the stone you've picked up instead of wood, for a longer lasting tool!
You need to dig an L-shaped cave. If the sun is setting now, make sure your cave is lit with torches, select some stone, and use right click to semi block your entrance. The corner in your cave will allow you to hide from any arrows fired by skeletons, and the single block window will keep them out, while allowing you to see when the sun rises again. You'll now get through your first night, and will be set up to explore and build more in the coming days.
Night lasts seven minutes, and you might as well spend the time enlarging your cave and making tools. A full list of crafting can be found here. By the morning, I'd made a door, put in a window and expanded my cave quite a bit. Check out Minecraft now and get exploring! It's one of the best games this year. You can play a trial version for free, with no saves, or buy a license for the full experience. This indie gem is certainly worth paying for.