(This was written for version 1.05... it should still be mostly right.)
Elf Treetop City is a cool game by Sean Barrett, the same guy who did Lost in the Static. I'm just getting started with it myself, but I put together this guide to help other people get going. As I learn more advanced strategy I'll update the guide!
When you first arrive at your destination, the elves will be tired and cranky from the long trip. Their morale will be low; most of the elves won't do any work, and those that are are limited in what they will do. (This serves as a sort of tutorial to how to control the game, since your options are so limited.)
The purpose of this quickstart guide is to walk you through this initial phase of the game as explicitly as possible.
You'll start out with a bunch of elves in the forest. You can scroll around the world, but as long as you have a big tree (two brown triangles next to each other) on screen, it doesn't matter much where you pick.
There may be animals of various kinds around (indicated with lowercase letters). Later you'll be able to develop a rapport with the animals and make some use of them, but for now just ignore them. Even bears and oliphaunts won't attack elves unprovoked. If you're extremely unlucky, there may be monsters present or nearby (indicated with uppercase letters); in that case you're probably best off starting the game over, unless you really want to face a challenge (and since this is your first game, you probably don't).
Since they're cranky because they're tired, you need to get your elves to go to sleep. However, elves won't sleep out in the open; apparently they only feel safe sleeping in the trees (it appears that monsters can't climb trees). So you'll have to build somewhere for them to sleep.
You'll probably just want to build temporary sleeping platforms. Elves don't generally sleep very often, so you'll probably want to take them back down (or turn them into something more useful) after a day or two.
To build a sleeping platform, you'll need materials. At this stage of the game, your only option is to build it out of wood. You can either use broken branches (don't require an extra step to create, but only okay quality and limited quantity), or you can harvest some lumber (moderate quality).
Choose "Elves" from the main menu. Press a letter corresponding to each elf and check their stats. If their "morale" stat is above 0, they'll be willing to do some work. (You can assign jobs to elves at morale 0, but they won't do anything until their morale goes up.)
Once you've selected an elf with a morale above 0, go back to the main menu (hit ESCAPE repeatedly), and then choose "Jobs". Now choose "Material". Then choose "Forester". Now your elf will go create lumber.
It seems like not all the elves will do forestry. If you have trouble just skip this step and build the sleeping platform with branches.
Now use TAB to set the view level to 100'. Move the cursor to a branch within two squares of a tree trunk (each trunk is a brown diamond with a vertical slash which takes up two spaces). Press enter, and a sleeping platform will be scheduled to be built there. Do this in a few more places to build multiple platforms so more than one elf can sleep at a time.
When they wake up, they'll be fully rested and their morale will usually be close to 100, so you'll be able to assign them many more tasks. At this point you probably want to start working on a garden and developing a rapport with animals, but that is beyond the scope of this guide.