I use Create Workflow on the ribbon which takes me to Designer. I am able to select a List workflow (part of what I am trying to acieve). I have tried to create it every available way but the workflow does not show up in designer or on the site
Are you using the steps described in this MSDN instruction?
As you are unable to see SharePoint 2013 as Platform Type, please find the note from the documentation:
If you do not see SharePoint 2013 Workflow as an available platform type then Workflow Manager is not configured to work with the SharePoint Server 2013 farm.
Check out the steps for Installing and configuring workflow for SharePoint Server 2013 and Installing and Configuring Workflow Manager 1.0