I was trying to figure out what my barely terraformed planet would be like, so I found which countries have the lowest population densities and figured it would be like Australia, Canada and Mongolia.http://beccaelizabeth.livejournal.com/2379220.html
But I have been thinking it's even more complicated than that, because on this planet those places can do imports. If your entire planet is Australia and Canada and Mongolia, you could only import from other places that are also not known for their massive food exports.
I found a video on YouTube about Eat Canadian because cheap imports are making the farms go away. Exports are in the hundreds of thousands and imports are in the billions. For each food group or something. I don't know, large numbers just boggle me. So anyways, Canada gets a lot of food sent to it. A LOT. So what would Canada be like if it didn't have all that imports? I guess it would be like a century ago when there wasn't so much flying food around the world. There was much less people in Canada a century ago. I don't know if I could find a map with the population marked on it, but that would be handy.
That video also said that there's places paving their farmland to make more city. I'd say that sounds unwise, but I don't know where British food comes from at all. Probably we made more city over the top of a lot of it. Getting food from far away only works in conditions where there's tons of fuel around. Which isn't going to be true for very long. If you've build over the top of your food while you happened to have a lot of transport, that looks like trouble waiting to happen.
Growing enough food for everyone local would be really a BIG lot more food than the way we do it at the moment.
When I design spaceships the GURPS rules just say have an open space and call it farming. They don't even say how much open space you need to feed how many people. They're all lalala we have food now ONWARDS! Which I can see in a game meant to be about sneaking around stealing things or shooting people or other such active and glamorous pursuits. But food is a huge big deal in the real world. You can make plenty of adventure about food. But a lot of it would be really quite slow.
So if they're an advanced biotech planet then maybe they have food the way spaceships do, everyone has a food room and boxes that grow food for them, simples.
But they'd still need power and water to do it. I know some places have geothermal power and some places have solar power but nowhere on the planet has fossil fuels because the planet hasn't been alive long enough to have fossils. Let alone flammable ones. Also I was going to say they can't scrape together enough glowy rocks for nuclear power, but apparently I need to find out how planets work first, because complicated. It's easy to say they don't have as much metal as they want, it's not so easy to say how that would end up working or how planets would form like that.
ANYways... on spaceships power, water and food is pretty simples, there's power plants and water floating around and they grow food for themselves. But it's only simples because the rules don't want to spend all the time thinking about it. Planets do not find it simple. Planets spend a lot of their time making enough food. So I'm inventing a planet, and trying to imagine just growing all their own food in difficult conditions. Their advanced biotech would be retained just to make sure there's enough good eating. And it would not be simple at all.
When they come visit our planet, I can't decide if they'd be wow about supermarkets, or kind of grossed out. So much waste
... probably wow that turns to guilt when they discover the inefficiencies.
They'd also want to buy one of each of everything, buy plants and animals and get all the codes. Because very rich biosphere, even after what we've been doing to it. Space neighbours could get Very Serious about conservation, because it would be the kind of stuff that's worth going to a different planet, finding a unique biosphere full of things your planet never grew. If all their tech is bio then they'd value our bio more than we do, like seeing people sitting on a heap of gold and persistently turning it into lead. So they'd want to come and visit and collect all kinds of everything.
Stone circle gates aren't going to work well enough or often enough to do mass import/export like with food, they could only do samples. Like if the Enterprise could only send a shuttle once a day. And then spend a year going to the next planet. Which is a pretty reasonable set of constraints for real exploration, just a lot slower than television stories bother being.
I can see why people on a poor planet would invent VR. If it is difficult to make enough food they might end up with really boring food. And if it is difficult to transport stuff they couldn't go visit the neighbours very much. Virtual Reality and some good networking be much more efficient. Have all the good stuff, save on resource use. They wouldn't be trapped in the Matrix necessarily, just if everyone woke up they'd need a lot more stuff to go around. Wake up and starve isn't a good plan.
It's really hard to think of a world with no imports and exports and no neighbours. It's not even like hitting rewind, there were some for all the history times, even if not much. To have your whole world be what you brought with you... not easy to imagine at all.