Ok so you want to know the basic of Cities XL eh? Alright, let's get started by showing how to get started!
When you start making a city, make sure you have lot's of resources and good amount of flat land. Then, you build your road connection, but build it in a flat area so you can zone. Now what you do is start building your residents, but have it near your town center. Now you start zoning industry, but remember that it pollutes, so build it far away from you city. You will want to zone offices now, as well as commerce, but don't add to much commerce. Now you should start zoning farms and lots of them, but be quick or they will go bankrupted due to no silo and fertilizer. Now sell any farm tokens you got, but keep some of them.
Now your probably still zoning, which is good, but you should stick to office and not heavy industry, but zone manufacturing when you get it. Now you need a hospital and leisure, but you only need on of each. Now continue zoning and placing what they need if it turns red orange, not yellow orange or orange. The only way to make money in this game basically trade tokens so trade any office you have. When you get landmarks, make sure they are spread out or it won't be as effective and will only cover one area if you place them next to each other.
open resource panel and see what is required to run the city, if it's green then you don't need to zone that resource, but if it's orange start zoning it, but keep zoning office no matter what, because you can sell the tokens, but when you run out of passenger service, make another connection or if you get the airport, then place one, but be warned of the cost, and if you run out of freight, then build a port, but also be warned of it's cost and they do in fact pollute, airports do noise and ports do air pollution, but there's a mod to where you get both passenger and freight, but only for Cities XL 2011.
When doing elites, be warned of their requirements, as they will probably cost you a lot of money, but required for high density offices and other high density stuff, also medium density high-tech, but this is the only medium density that they will work in. you can also sell off extra tokens of any resource that you have so you can continue to make money.
Now when zoning high density, be weary of traffic problems, so place them on higher capacity type roads, like avenues. If you don't, then their satisfaction goes down, but you can still have good satisfaction, but it will make it hard to get above 80%.
When zoning high density heavy industry, be warned of major pollution, so it's best to put them on the opposite side of the map so they don't affect the people in the city. When you get high density offices, you want to give them express ways since they cause a lot of traffic. Also give them a good place to build or you won't make the maximum profit or they might leave if the environment is to bad. It's ok if you have traffic in the office area's, but you can't have to much or people will continue to complain about traffic.
Now the real trick is trying to reach 1 million people, this is hard to do, but it's not impossible. Now in order to do this you need to keep the elites in the city, if you can keep them above 50%, then they will stay. If you reach 1 million, then good job you managed to get all high density buildings and now you can take a break.
Good luck on creating your city in Cities XL!