Well trial and error for the basic stuff, yes. Some of it really "makes sense" when you think about the patterns you make and the materials you use. However, I will agree that for some of the more complex things a reference is needed for it to not take way too many hours to figure out how to make a redstone switch. I'm sure people figured them out through a combination of hacking the game and trial and error with shared knowledge. Still, when I downloaded the demo I figured out how to get wood, turn it into planks, sticks, a shovel, a pick axe (which I figured out I needed to get stone), and many other basic things with no assistance. But even when looking up patterns, I don't feel I beat the game. At that point the game is to take all these parts you can make and figure out ways to put them together. Build elaborate houses and castles etc...it's more like legos without a specific "right" way to build something. Even when I killed the Ender Dragon I didnt' feel I beat the game. It's not even a game you beat. It's an open ended game with essentially infinite variability. Don't like the world? Start a new one with a new seed and get something completely different. Go digging for caves and diamonds...build elaborate red stone machines....play with friends as a death match...play one of the many servers with dozens or more people with different rules and objectives. There is no end to the game except one you arbitrarily decide.