If you make the game buttons proportionate enough with the space you use for chat (you can take up all vertical space, no problem), they might blend naturally enough. I think less backgrounds/panels fit better with the vivid landscape - the more you show of it the better, so some gaps between buttons would help the chat interface to "breathe". And it would also compare better to the game buttons. I just like that idea and would like to see you make it work!
Did you get any inspiration from the new banner customization screen yet? It also has banner on center now and looks pretty decent.
Yeah definitely valid points. I need some time away from it to get a stronger vision.
And no I haven't seen it I think?