The game opens and you're sitting alone on a black screen. All you see is the OOC (out of character) chat flooding your screen to the right, and a singular white message saying "Press R to start".
Well, that's exactly what you should do. Press R on your keyboard and menu will pop up, showing you the races that you have available to you.
If that's not doing anything, this might be to an unfamiliarity with the BYOND client. Look down at the pale bar under your graphics, and see if .alt is typed in. If anything else is typed there, or you've activated it by accident, simply click on the bar and press enter on your keyboard. Find the buttons on the far right of that bar, labeled chat/alt/host. Click on the one labeled alt. Your hotkeys should work again.
Pick whatever sounds best for now, or you can look at what each of the races has available to them here.
You have your race, and you're wondering "what do I do now?" or "why are my units getting murdered by NPCs?!?"
Well first, calm down. You're probably going to die a fair bit before you get the hang of this game, just like any other game you jump into. NPCs wander the map, and if your race is hostile to their faction, they're going to try and rip your nipples off through your spine. Just take a deep breath, and if you get murdered press R again to restart and try harder.
Press A to select all of your units.
This will show a small red triangle over the top of whatever unit you have selected, in this case all of them. You can do lots of things with your units, but right when you're starting you want to find a place to hole up until you get the hang of things.
Once you have your units selected, click anywhere in the area to make your units move to that point.
If your units can move there, they'll automatically try to path to that location. Don't be silly though, you can't walk through walls or into bodies of water (that is unless you're flying, but we'll get to that later).
Okay, you're mobile now, but what do you do next?
This depends on what the goal of your empire is, which is mostly up to the player. Do you want to be a crafter of magnificent goods, to trade them or show them off to the world? Are you a conquering bandit king, demanding slaves and goods just for the priveledge of staying alive? This is up to you, as much of the interaction between players is entirely generated by the people playing the game.
Help! I'm getting murdered by NPCs!
Don't panic - combat is a large focus of this game. If you've got your units selected, click once on the thing you want to die a gruesome death and your units will duke it out with them until something falls over (probably after sending a number of limbs flying in multiple directions).
Okay, let's be more specific - I've got my units selected, and I'm moving them around. Now what?
Now we're going to learn more specific selection. Press the spacebar. This should deselect all your units - no red arrows over anyone. This is going to be very useful later on, so remember that command. Now, if you want to specifically select any of your units instead of all of them, double click the unit either on the game world or in your "Units" tab. If you've selected the unit you'll have that familiar red triangle appear over their head. If you want to deselect him press the spacebar or doubleclick the unit again.
Okay, you know how to move around and you're getting the hang of selecting units, right? Right. Now you're probably wondering what the next step is. That next step is finding a place where you're not going to get murdered, and building up there. If you're a human, or a dwarf or some other good race like that you can always find the Alliance NPC settlements and hole up with them there for a bit. If you're a kobold or ratman, you're already starting underground and you should be fairly safe. If you're an orc, you can look for the orc settlement in the southwest and hole up there. Players might be attacking their fortress so this is by no means always an option.
And there's always the option of just setting up wherever you happen to be in your own settlement.
I want to start building, how do I go about that?
First of all, you should press B with a unit selected to open your build menu. Anything you want to build takes resources, and the world is full of them. The requirements are all pretty straightforward - if you want to build a stone wall, you need some stone, a wood wall needs wood, and so on.
But how do I get resources?
Good thinking. First determine if your race is humanoid or monstrous. Dwarves, goblins, orcs, humans, elves and the like need tools to gather resources, which your intrepid starting units begin with. If you want stone, you need a pickaxe. If you want wood, you need an axe. To start chopping or mining, select a unit and open their inventory panel. Find your tool of choice and double click it - this will open a menu, select equip. Now your unit will appear as holding the tool you equipped. If you want to chop down a tree, equip your axe and click once on the tree you want to chop down. If you have a pickaxe equipped, find a cave wall (the brown stone looking mountain stuff) and click once on the tile you want to mine out. If you chopped down a tree, you'll find a pile of seeds and wood under the unit that whacked it. If you're mining a wall, depending on your race, you'll find some resources under your unit. This will probably be stone or iron. Don't worry about iron right yet, we're worried about stone.
Now, select your unit and doubleclick on the wood or stone you want. If your unit is standing next to it and they have enough carrying capacity, they'll pick it up.
Awesome, now you've got the building blocks for your civilization.
How do I make my units continue doing something when they're not selected?
Say you want to have one unit chop down a tree, then have another unit do something else. Easy. Select your unit, have them start the designated task, then press spacebar to deselect them. As long as you don't select that unit again, they will continue on their task.