Badges are easy, you'll get it fast.
The key with animations is that when you set the start/end for one - make sure keyframes on the animated channels exist for the parts you want to animate - if you aren't getting animations, you probably mis-aligned (or just didn't do) keys on the start/end of each region.
When in doubt about shaders/materials - go look at hod_alias.manifest - you can pretty quickly figure out what does what and why it's there. I think innate subsystems use 'innateSS' shader to have that 'glowing boundary' visible when you mouse-over them?
But you'll get it! Really, really excited to see you taking on this level of work.