using template file to generate powerpoint slides via R Markdown

I've been trying to play around with RMD files to generate powerpoint slide decks. One of the critical features for me is to be able to use a custom template. Starting off with the basic template in R Studio, the only edit I made was to include a single line in the YAML header to designate the custom template:

title: "Powerpoint trial"
author: "Mario Niepel"
date: "2/1/2021"
    reference_doc: template.pptx

Without this line the PPT comes out exactly as described in the instructions:

Powerpoint deck as it should be.

However, when I include the template I get a warning:

Warning that Powerpoint slide deck requires repairs.

And when I ask to attempt to repair the presentation, it is mostly garbled:

Content of Powerpoint deck after repair attempt.

Even though the slide master in my template is properly designated, in the new version the slide master is essentially empty:

Slide master view of knitted document.

Is there a place the lists the exact requirements for a template? Is there something else I should be checking?

EDIT: In addition, I read up on the description for powerpoint/rmarkdown use of templates that says four levels of slides are needed for the template (Title, Title + Content, Section Header, Two Content). Those are the only four slide layouts I currently have in my template.

It seems you are using Sharepoint ? (from what I see in the screenshot).

Can you try also locally with the same pptx file you have for the template ?

How did you create the template file ? Best is to modify one generated using R Markdown and Pandoc, and not build one from scratch using PPTX directly.

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Thanks for you suggestion. Changing from Sharepoint to local does not make a difference. The files are actually local and only synched via Sharepoint.

However, additional troubleshooting shows that this is an issue with the specific template that I am working with. It works just fine with built-in MS templates -- even if I modify them. Unfortunately, I am not able to recreate the layout I need, so I can't tell what is breaking things. I will probably have to go a different route (e.g. embedded PNGs that get updated when my R scripts update them).