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Faster, better Dota 2 Python replay parser.
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smoke protobuf UM updates: courier kill, camera transition Jul 14, 2014
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This document is a work in progress. Please open an issue for any technical or other errors you find.


Fast, complete Dota 2 "demo" (aka "replay") parser written in cython. Cython is a Python-like language which is processed into C and then compiled for execution speed.

You can interact with the smoke library like a normal python library*.

Python 3 support might be possible, if our protobuf library is compatible. Figuring this out is not a priority for us, but feel free to conduct your own investigation. Happy to accept pull requests.

* The installation process is a hair more involved.


On a fast CPU, smoke parses pro game replays with spectators and commentators at ~103x game time. A full parse on a 57 minute-long TI game replay takes ~33 seconds.

For a normal "pub" game of 47 minutes, a full parse takes ~19 seconds, or around ~148x game time.

You can always omit data you don't need for faster parses. Voice data is a good place to start (see below). The numbers above are upper bounds.

smoke is heavily optimized, but if speed is of utmost concern for you, or if you prefer Java, check out clarity. It is 2-5x faster than smoke.


We've successfully compiled and run smoke on these platforms:

  • gcc 4.8.1 (Fedora 19 64-bit, Ubuntu 13.10 32- and 64-bit)
  • gcc 4.8.2 (Fedora 20 64-bit)
  • clang-500.2.79 (Mac OS X 10.9)

It probably doesn't have any serious portability issues at this point.


Of course. Join us on quakenet IRC in #dota2replay. But do be patient--if we don't answer immediately, we're probably playing Dota 2.


smoke is authored using python 2.7.x*.

If you use a Unix-like operating system (Linux or Mac OS X), installating smoke should be pretty painless. Windows hackers, halp! If you figure out how to get it running on Windows, let us know. It should be possible.

First, you need a C compiler. OS X users will need to install the Xcode "Command Line Tools" from Apple and a package manager like Homebrew or MacPorts. Ubuntu users may want to install the build-essential package for a quick, standard compiler:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

You will also need python-dev:

sudo apt-get install python-dev

You will need the snappy development libraries. Mac OS X users can get this easily with Homebrew or MacPorts. With Homebrew, for example:

$ brew install snappy
$ brew install protobuf

@jptaylor helpfully points out that OS X Mavericks users need to set some compiler options via environment variables, like so:

export CFLAGS=-Qunused-arguments
export CPPFLAGS=-Qunused-arguments

In Ubuntu, you might install dependencies thusly:

$ sudo apt-get install libsnappy-dev libprotobuf-dev python-dev

And the python libraries, preferably in your virtualenv:

$ pip install cython # for problems with virtualenv
$ pip install palm
$ pip install python-snappy

Next, you must install palm 0.1.9 from source--it's not in PyPI, so you can't get it with pip:

$ git clone && cd palm
$ python install

Finally, install smoke by cloning it:

$ git clone && cd smoke
$ python install

That's it! You're good to go.


If you want to hack on smoke, you might consider doing this instead of the second line in the last section above:

$ python build_ext --inplace # no system install

If you hack on smoke, you might occasionally get persistent build failures that have nothing to do with your code (this only applies to --inplace). It's a bit kludgy, but you can reset the build thusly from within your project dir:

$ find . -name \*.so -delete
$ find . -name \*.h -delete
$ find . -name \*.c -delete
$ find . -name \*.pyc -delete
$ rm -rf build

If you have compile or runtime problems after this, it's not Cython.

Replay Data

smoke parses only the data you're interested in from a replay. Choose from:

  • entities: in-game things like heroes, players, and creeps
  • modifiers: auras and effects on in-game entities✝
  • "temp" entities: fire-and-forget things the game server tells the client about*
  • user messages: many different things, including spectator clicks, global chat messages, overhead events (like last-hit gold, and much more), etc.*✝
  • game events: lower-level messages like Dota TV control (directed camera commands, for example), combat log messages, etc.*
  • voice data: the protobuf-formatted binary data blobs that are somehow strung into voice--only really relevant to commentated pro matches*✝
  • sounds: sounds that occur in the game*✝
  • overview: end-of-game summary, including players, game winner, match id, duration, and often picks/bans

* transient: new dataset (i.e. list, dict) for each tick of the parse

unprocessed: data is provided as original protobuf message object

Parsing Replay Data

By default, smoke parses everything. This is the slowest parsing option. Here is a simple example which parses a demo, doing nothing:

import io

from import demo as io_wrp_dm
from smoke.replay import demo as rply_dm

with'37633163.dem', 'rb') as infile:
    # wrap a file IO as a "demo"
    demo_io = io_wrp_dm.Wrap(infile)

    # read the header that occurs at demo start

    # create a demo with our IO object
    demo = rply_dm.Demo(demo_io)

    # read essential pre-match data from the demo

    # this is the core loop for iterating over a game
    for match in
        # this is where you will do things! see smoke.replay.match
        count = len(match.entities)

    # parses game overview found at the end of the demo file

When run with time python, we get:

real    0m32.689s
user    0m32.411s
sys     0m0.242s

Perhaps you want to be more selective about parsing. We do this by bitmask. Here's code similar to the above, but more restrictive about what it parses. Consequently, it'll be tons faster:

import io

from import demo as io_wrp_dm
from smoke.replay import demo as rply_dm
from smoke.replay.const import Data

with'37633163.dem', 'rb') as infile:
    demo_io = io_wrp_dm.Wrap(infile)

    # it's a bitmask -- see smoke.replay.demo for all options
    parse = Data.All ^ (Data.UserMessages | Data.GameEvents | Data.VoiceData | Data.TempEntities)
    demo = rply_dm.Demo(demo_io, parse=parse)

    for match in
        count = len(match.entities)

    # parses game overview found at the end of the demo file

When run with time python

real    0m20.116s
user    0m19.904s
sys     0m0.196s

Finally, if we just want an overview of the game:

import io

from import demo as io_wrp_dm
from smoke.replay import demo as rply_dm
from smoke.replay.demo import Data

with'37633163.dem', 'rb') as infile:
    demo_io = io_wrp_dm.Wrap(infile)
    overview_offset = demo_io.bootstrap() # returns offset to overview

    # we can seek on the raw underlying IO instead of parsing everything

    demo = rply_dm.Demo(demo_io)

    print demo.match.overview

When run with `time python':

real    0m0.189s
user    0m0.124s
sys     0m0.034s

If you only need UserMessages or GameEvents (for example), you end up with 5 second parses. So parse as little as you can!

Take a look at smoke.replay.match to see which properties you can access while playing a demo.


See LICENSE in the project root. The license for this project is a modified MIT with an additional clause requiring specifically worded hyperlink attribution in web properties using smoke.

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