I don't understand how to play
This is not a real game, it is more a simulation of artificial life, based on simple mathematical rules. You select an initial pattern, you hit the Start button and see how it evolves. The aim is to find any interesting pattern that has not been discovered earlier.
I just have the Game, Settings and Help menus in the menubar, not the Pattern and Speed menus.
Some files are not installed in the correct folders. Please do a ./configure --prefix=$KDEDIR to be sure the files are all installed correctly. Run a make and make install as root after that new configure.
How can I save my own patterns?
You cannot do that at the moment but if you request it, I will add it in the near future.