So, you’ve just bought Minecraft, and you’ve either come here first for some tips, or you’ve already started the game but you haven’t got a clue what to do. This will help.
If you would like, I could also personally guide you through your first Minecraft day (if I'm free) just add me on MSN (firstname.lastname@example.org) or steam (burntcustard).
The basic controls are: W,A,S,D to move, Spacebar to jump and swim, I to open your inventory (and to do other things on your computer without pausing the game), ESC for menu, right click to use/place an item and left click to hit/gather things.
Your first day
To begin with, you can just admire the scenery, there is no reason to rush around collecting everything you see immediately.
After a few minutes, your going to want to start gathering materials so you can craft things and make a shelter before nightfall. The first resource you need is wood. Logs can be gathered by running up to a tree and “punching” it by holding down the left mouse button.
After you have collected some logs, turn them into “planks” (I just call it wood) by opening your inventory and placing the logs in one space of your 2x2 crafting table. The wood can then be used to create a workbench by placing 4 in your 2x2 crafting table. You can right click to drop just one piece of wood in each space.
Put the workbench in one of the bottom 9 squares of your inventory and then place it by scrolling to the slot you put it, and right clicking on the ground. Don’t worry where you put it as you can always pick it up again by holding left click. Right click on the workbench to use it, you now have a 3x3 crafting grid to make more complex items. To start off, turn 2 pieces of wood into 4 sticks by putting them one above the other in the table. Next create a pickaxe following this “recipe”:
You can make other tools similarly to this, try making an axe, a shovel, and a sword. Hint: the sword only uses one stick. Tools perform tasks quicker than by hand, for example, the wooden sword kills animals in 3 hits, rather than 10. Also, some rescores, like stone and snow, need tools to be collected. Tools only last a certain amount of uses, and if you use them for something they’re not supposed to be used for, they break twice as fast.
The next resource you should definitely find before nightfall is coal, so pick up your workbench and start searching. Coal looks like this:
Next it would be a good idea to start on your first shelter. This could be whatever you want, a log cabin, a stone house, a small cave you have found, or even the area you mined out while getting the stone and coal. The shelter needs to be monster proof. The easiest way to test this is if you can get in without breaking blocks, then monsters can too. The exception to this rule is spiders that can get in 2 wide and 1 high spaces, so make sure you have none of them. In the shelter you need to have somewhere to let light in so that you can see when it is day time, the safest way to do this is to craft a door by putting 6 blocks of wood in a rectangle in your workbench. Alternatively you could not give your shelter a roof (make sure monsters can’t jump in) or just leave a 1 gap hole(s) in your shelter, but make sure you have somewhere to hide behind if you do this, because skeletons will shoot through the hole. Make sure you still have a few blocks of wood and stone after building your shelter.
Your first night
So you’re hiding like a wimp in your shelter - if you’re not hiding in your shelter, and you think you’re going to take on all the badies with your wooden sword, you are going to die. It’s time to go up a “tech level”. Stone tools last longer than wooden ones, and are better/faster at doing their job. Stone tools are crafted in the same way as wooden ones, but with stone where the blocks of wood were (duh). You may as well dig around a bit in your shelter to gather resources as you can’t go outside, but unless you know exactly whats underneath you, never dig down as you might fall into a dark scary cave system full of monsters.
Now you've covered the basics, I would recommend you have a look at all of the crafting recipes here. I will be making a day 2 guide sometime soon, although it will just be a suggestion as to what you could do (with several helpful hints) because really, you can do whatever you want. Have fun!