I’m a new player to the game, I’m playing on a laptop and really struggling with controls. I find sheep to make a bed but end up dying before I can make a bed as I have lost my shelter. Is there anyway to make things easier, as at 36 I’m starting feel old that kids can master this game and yet I’m really struggling.
First off, go into options and set the game difficulty to Peaceful until you feel more confident with the game. It will not prevent dying from fall damage or lava or drowning, but it turns off monsters.
Make sure you connect an external mouse. Playing on a touchpad is next to impossible.
The Minecraft controls are a simple regular WASD+mouse type. Do you have any experience playing other first-person PC games?
I dunno what your laptop specs are, but if you have jerky performance/low framerate, might be good idea into options and tweak some video settings - fast graphics, fast clouds, lowered particles, lowered render distance (like 12)
Watch some tutorials on youtube about starting out in the game.
When you create some sort of shelter, press 'F3'. It brings up a lot of info on screen, of importance are 'XYZ' coordinates about midway down the left side. Write those down. Y coordinate is vertical, so what really matters are X and Z. Knowing your shelter coordinates, you should always be able to find it again.
You might also want to consider some mods. Download and install forge (http://files.minecraftforge.net/) for whichever version of Minecraft you are playing, it will create a 'forge' profile in your launcher. Now you can load and use mods. An especially good one is 'JourneyMap'.
The game has a few means to give you an idea of how to play but otherwise it isn't very clear after the basics. And as you posted in Java Edition I'll go off of that.
You might have seen the controls for WASD in the tutorial message in the top right, obviously you use those to move, and you use the Left Mouse Button to hit things (fight enemies or break blocks with your fist and tools). Right click it to place blocks or interact with a block that has an inventory or consume food/potions.
The aim at the start is to get wool from sheep for a bed, hold the left mouse button to punch wood logs and use the logs to make planks, sticks and a crafting table. There should also be a recipe book to let you know what you can make with the resources you have gained, so it should let you know what you can do with wood.
Most of the time without mods you'll need to use the wiki or memorise the recipes when using middle to late game resources.
But if you need guidance there is an advancements options in the pause menu that can help you with what to do next. So once you have wood, you'll need tools, to mine stone for cobblestone, upgrade your tools, make a furnace to cook food, smelt ores and more. See with mods due to how many recipes they can add or forgetting a regular game one it's easy to search for it and in compared to the recipe book all are unlocked with mods whilst with the recipe book you only have what you have acquired so it can feel less useful at times.
Then there is night (I'd recommend changing the difficulty to peaceful if your still adjusting to the game and don't have weapons to fight mobs yet) which spawns enemies like zombies, skeletons and more. At times you'll want the difficulty to Easy, Normal or Hard for things like Bones from skeletons to make Bonemeal (a fertilizer for crops you grow, and you can get wheat seeds by hitting grass which is a good early game food besides animals) to later game stuff like Ender Pearls which lead you to the End Portal dimension. But other wise the game has no end really can people play to find new things to do like make contraptions, build structures, use mods, make adventure maps and so on. But for the sake of a typical survival the goal is the End Portal to beat the dragon, and then you teleport home once you see the credits.
But to end off I'd say look at the wiki, look at the recipe book for wood, cobble, mine iron ore in caves, make a furnace to cook food/ores, make armour and tools from any new resource you can find (wood, stone, iron, diamond) and explore.
When it comes to the lack of finding things in the world though I'd recommend placing blocks that stand out or torches, like a bread crumb trail or build pillars. There is a map but it isn't the greatest, but I'd look for it on the wiki as well as the cartography table which can expand the map size.
Otherwise if you need any other points just ask or check the wiki. But good luck. As I took a bit to get used to the game and used the wiki and started getting into mods and just learned the game logic enough to the point that the game is accessible from any angle I play it from.
I began playing minecraft, as a crusty, 49 yrs old man, a scant year and half ago, (which means I'm even crustier and older now). But my experience was different than yours; I didn't mind dying. For one thing, dying isn't permanent unless you are playing hardcore mode. And for another, well, you >will< die. A LOT. Repeat, you will die a lot in this game. It's part of the learning process. Once you accept that then it becomes much easier to push forward.
I have started and restarted new worlds again and again, never feeling a loss for what was built in the last. Indeed, I'm about to start up a fresh new world to finally have a peek at the new nether content.
The advice above to switch to Peaceful mode is a good one. I typically keep my games on Easy because I like to kill the occasional zombie. But I have no need to make the game any more difficult than that and I often switch to Peaceful mode whenever monsters become a nuisance, (like knowing that Creeper is about to blow.....).
That's the beauty of Minecraft; you can play it the way >you< like it. Enjoy.
edit: Oh, and I play on a 13" macbook pro, no problems at all. Well, slight lag when on a horse or boat, but otherwise the touchpad works fine for navigation. I did, however, remap my right click command to a key to prevent accidental 'thwacks' of the sword when touching the touchpad. But other than that, my touchpad is perfectly hunky dorry for navigation.
If you like tutorials I highly recommend watching the Survive and Thrive series by paulsoaresjr on Youtube, at least the first one or two about surviving your first night and getting settled in.
This series is really old but the basic principles still apply. Paul’s more recent series are much more entertaining for folks who already know how to play the game.
I think it is a good idea for new players to enable cheats when creating a new world. You don’t have to use them but they can come in handy. Playing peaceful mode to begin with as scorrp10 suggested is a good idea when learning the basics. Generally speaking, Even in survival mode there is no need to die even if you are lost without a bed and have no lights. When the sun starts to go down just burrow into a hill and shut yourself in or build a three block high wall around yourself with any block that is handy (don’t forget the ceiling). In a pinch you can even just dig a three block deep hole in the ground, jump in and cover your head. In about 10 minutes the new day will dawn and you can find your shelter or make a new one.
I love starting out on a new world. It is a scramble to be sure. Punch wood, make crafting table, make wooden tools, chop more wood, find hill to dig my shelter in, mine cobblestone (even digging straight down to find it), make stone tools (pickaxe, axe, shovel and hoe), weapon, kill some animals for food, but not all, and break grass for seeds, plant seeds, make oven, burn wood for charcoal if I haven’t found coal, make torches, light up my shelter. Mine within the safety of my lit up shelter during the night in the hopes of finding coal and iron. If I haven’t already found sheep I go looking for them at the crack of dawn. Whew!